Friday, 9 December 2016

NEW ZEALAND: New Zealanders Regret Influx Of Tourists Overflooding Environment

A growing number of New Zealanders feel the country is attracting too many tourists, as record numbers of visitors put the environment and infrastructure under pressure, according to a tourism industry survey out Friday.

When told the country drew a record 3.4 million tourists over the past year, 19 percent of respondents said they felt that was too many, according to the survey by the Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) and the government's Tourism New Zealand agency.

That figure was up from 13 percent in the same survey a year ago.

However New Zealanders generally felt positive about the fast-growing tourism industry, with more than a quarter believing the country received too few visitors, said a statement from the two organizations.

The latest survey was conducted in November with the majority of responses received before the Kaikoura earthquake that killed two people on Nov. 14.

Compared to the previous surveys, New Zealanders' understanding of the size and importance of the tourism industry had improved slightly although most continued to underestimate the number of international visitors arriving each year.

The main benefits of international tourism were considered to be business opportunities and economic growth.

Road accidents and traffic congestion were the top concerns of survey respondents, followed by overcrowding, a lack of infrastructure and environmental impacts.

"These latest results reinforce the issue we have been aware of and targeting for some time - that growth in international tourism is putting pressure on some communities," Tourism New Zealand acting chief executive Brighid Kelly said in the statment.

"We believe concerns are exacerbated by our visitor concentration in summer and at key tourist hot spots."

TIA chief executive Chris Roberts said the industry and government were working together to address the concerns raised in the survey, such as the safety of visiting drivers.

"We are championing the provision of tourism infrastructure to support tourism value growth, including researching future infrastructure needs and funding options," Roberts said in the statement.

New Zealanders generally feel positive about the fast-growing tourism industry, according to the latest research by Tourism Industry Aotearoa and Tourism New Zealand.

More than a quarter of New Zealanders believe we receive too few visitors. However, almost one in five Kiwis are worried we may be attracting too many, the latest Mood of the Nation research has found.

The research, which was initiated in 2015 and is being carried out six monthly, measures New Zealanders’ perceptions of tourism. The latest survey was conducted in November with the majority of responses received before the Kaikoura earthquake on 14 November.

Compared to the previous surveys, New Zealanders’ understanding of the size and importance of the tourism industry has improved slightly although most Kiwis continue to underestimate the number of international visitors arriving in New Zealand each year.

When told the actual number (3.4 million), 19% felt New Zealand was attracting too many visitors, compared to 13% who felt that way a year ago.

The main benefits of international tourism are considered to be business opportunities and economic growth. Road accidents and traffic congestion were the top concerns of survey respondents. Overcrowding, a lack of infrastructure and environmental impacts were also mentioned.

Tourism New Zealand Acting Chief Executive Brighid Kelly says the purpose of the Mood of the Nation research is to monitor New Zealanders’ perception of the value of tourism, its benefits and disadvantages.

“These latest results reinforce the issue we have been aware of and targeting for some time – that growth in international tourism is putting pressure on some communities,” Brighid says.

“We believe concerns are exacerbated by our visitor concentration in summer and at key tourist hot spots.

“This is why Tourism New Zealand’s current strategy is about changing this profile by only promoting travel in the shoulder seasons, and focusing our efforts on encouraging travel into more regions.”

TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts says the concerns raised in the survey have been important for focusing industry efforts, with a number of important initiatives in place to address concerns.

“We have been working closely with government agencies and industry to improve the safety of visiting drivers. We are championing the provision of tourism infrastructure to support tourism value growth, including researching future infrastructure needs and funding options.

“The tourism industry is committed to managing tourism growth in a way that is sustainable and acceptable to our communities.”

The next Mood of the Nation survey will be carried out towards the end of what is expected to be another record tourism summer.