Otago’s views on tourism mixed

Both the benefits and the downsides of international tourism are felt keenly in the South, a new survey shows.

Queenstown has the strongest opinions on the issue.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) and Tourism New Zealand yesterday released their Mood of the Nation research.

The research comes in the wake of a forecast 5.1 million international visitors by 2024, up from 3.7 million last year.

The figures show about 95% of New Zealanders agreed international tourism was good for New Zealand, up 3% on last year.

Nationally, only 21% felt there were too many visitors, the lowest percentage since 2016.

Pressure on infrastructure was the top concern, expressed by 44%, while 41% were worried by road congestion and safety, and 31% by the impact on the environment.

But the regional figures showed Otago residents felt strongly about the issue of high visitor numbers.

Otago residents, more than any other region, recognised the benefits for business, employment, economic growth, and the connection with other cultures.

But they were also more likely to perceive there were too many international tourists visiting annually (32%), that there was too much pressure from those tourists (54%), and that predicted tourism growth was too high (64%).

TIA chief executive Chris Roberts said a close look at the numbers showed the concerns were "very much Queenstown".

They were "much, much lower" in other areas of Otago.The  visibility of tourism was far higher in Queenstown — "both the pros and the cons".

The area has experienced  problems from increased tourism. Mr Roberts said the survey showed there was more concern about the effect of international tourism in the South Island than the North Island.

"The concerns grow as you head south, and are particularly noticeable in Queenstown and the West Coast."

The TIA would consider the issue in the new year to see if a regional approach was the best way forward.

The organisation may consider "getting alongside some of these regional communities and seeing what assistance they might want".

Dunedin tourism industry figure Norcombe Barker said Queenstown issues were "completely different" from Dunedin.

But there was "push-back" against tourism in places like Baldwin St, where it caused problems, and the city needed to manage the issue carefully.

Comments

There has been tourism in New Zealand for many years but what has changed recently is the volume and therefore the nature of tourism. New Zealand is a beautiful country but becoming less so as pressure mounts to commercially exploit the very beauty and isolation that made us unique. Please let's not kill the golden goose by turning our uniqueness into just another destination for mass market. travel.

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