Council action on campervans urged

The freedom camping controversy is being highlighted by the Waitaki Tourism Association in an effort to persuade the Waitaki District Council to tighten its rules and educate tourists.

The association, which represents more than 70 businesses in the Waitaki district, has made a submission to the council calling for action, particularly in light of the increase in visitors predicted for next year's Rugby World Cup.

Chairwoman Sue Berry said recently the association felt it was timely to raise the issue in relation to the current discussion over banning campervans, which were an important source of revenue for New Zealand and the Waitaki district.

"However, the benefits of the economic side of the ledger are somewhat offset by the activities of freedom campers who, to the majority of critics, display the ugly side of tourism and in excessive cases cause a number of potential health issues with their toilet and refuse disposal activities," she said.

Evidence was widespread around the Waitaki district at tourism hot spots.

This was a health and image problem affecting residents and businesses.

"The problem is real now and will get worse without management," Mrs Berry said.

However, the problem was not the fault of the non-budget campervan sector or members of the New Zealand Motor Home Association, whose campervans were equipped with on-board toilets and were driven by responsible people.

The problem needed to be addressed not just at a district but at a national level.

The district also needed to be campervan friendly.

The council had limited camping restrictions with a bylaw which banned camping in areas not set aside for the purpose and using a public place as temporary accommodation without written approval from the council.

However, these restrictions were not enforced.

The association has made a number of recommendations to the council including:

- Adopting a bylaw and policies on camping and campervans.

- Enforcing any bylaw.

- An education brochure for distribution to information centres.

- Placing signs at gateway locations to the district on state highways to inform campervan and motorhome drivers.

- Placing "no camping" signs at tourism "hot spots" where there were problems.

- Establishing and maintaining toilet and rubbish disposal facilities at selected visitor hot spots.

david.bruce@odt.co.nz

 

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