Covid break gives us a chance for a tourism reset [RNZ, 27/11/20]
Freedom camping isn’t free. If the campers aren’t paying for power and toilets at facilities built for them, ratepayers are picking up the tab for parking spaces and cleaning up after them. And these are not the international tourists hiring helicopters, paying guides, or dining at five-star restaurants.
This week the new minister of tourism, Stuart Nash, had a go at low-value back-packing tourists, saying he wants to see New Zealand marketing to high-wealth individuals. He said he’d ban vans that weren’t self-contained, and he’s fed up with travellers who treat the side of the road as their toilets.
Reactions have varied – how do you tell it’s not New Zealanders trashing their own country? Backpackers come back later in life for more comfortable holidays. They also pick up those casual jobs Kiwis don’t want to do. Cruise ships are worse for the environment and relatively little cruise money gets spent here. And Youth Hostels say such a move risks us becoming boring and staid – “the Florida of the South Pacific”.
Otago University Professor of Tourism James Higham however welcomes the chance to spark a conversation of what we want tourism here to look like, post-Covid.
He talks to The Detail about re-distributing the burden of catering for freedom campers to central government, standardising the rules, and introducing a better kind of industry that would ensure we take more care of the environment.
RNZ The Detail audio: Listen: Duration 22′ :24″