The NZ tourism industry cannot afford to ignore the elephant in the room [The Spinoff, 20/01/20]

While New Zealand may continue to prosper from the tourist dollar for a decade or two yet, there is the very real prospect that the climate crisis will drive international tourism down, writes James Renwick.

The headline read “Tourism industry working to ensure a sustainable future” but there was scant evidence of true sustainability thinking in the article. Looking forward to growth – as a tourism industry leader did in the piece – is a red flag for a start. Growth is ultimately unsustainable, wherever it is occurring. I wonder: does Tourism New Zealand have a maximum number of tourists in mind? It would be very interesting to know, and something that would form the basis for an excellent public discussion. The recent report from the parliamentary commissioner for the environment on the environmental consequences of tourism growth was based on the assumption of a tripling in international tourist numbers, reaching 10 million visitors per year by 2050. Is that sustainable? Or even feasible?

Read the full version of James Renwick’s opinion piece in The Spinoff, here.

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