Queenstown, Wanaka locals say area ‘can’t keep up’ with increasing tourist numbers [Newshub, 30/12/19]
New research suggests the number of tourists visiting Queenstown needs to be managed in order to prevent the negative impacts of overtourism.
The region is said to have reached its capacity for visitors, with tourists in both Queenstown and Wanaka predicted to swell to unmanageable numbers.
Queenstown is home to nearly 40,000 residents – but on a typical day during the peak tourism season, its population nearly triples to around 110,000.
In just four years, tourist numbers are forecast to hit 150,000 per day.
The infrastructure is under strain – particularly roads, parking, housing and freedom camping facilities.
Locals are losing patience with the ever-increasing numbers of visitors.
“It can’t just keep growing exponentially, because the infrastructure isn’t keeping up currently. But hopefully that will be addressed,” local Melissa O’Malley told Newshub.
“I personally think Queenstown is at its maximum, my aunt and uncle live here and they’ve left now due to the traffic,” said another.
Research from Otago University’s tourism department has revealed that a line needs to be drawn under what is an acceptable number of tourists – and locals need to be consulted.
“I think people coming in definitely need to pay something towards it,” local Laurie Patterson suggested.
Tourists Newshub spoke to said they would be happy to do so.
“If it came down to a choice of being able to come or not come – most tourists would be happy to pay a little bit extra as a tax rather than not come at all,” one visitor said.
Over the hill in Wanaka, the same issues exist, with locals claiming the town is bursting at the seams.
“We’re projected to double in size within a couple of decades and that’s huge growth. We’re the fastest growing region in New Zealand and we can’t even keep up with infrastructure,” Mark Sinclair from the Protect Wanaka group told Newshub.
Protect Wanaka has been formed by locals to protest the $400 million airport expansion mooted for the town. They have produced an animated video to demonstrate what a big and supposedly detrimental effect it would have on the area.