'Too much tourist pressure' in Queenstown

Morning traffic builds up around Queenstown. Photo: Video screenshot/ODT
Morning traffic builds up around Queenstown. Photo: Video screenshot/ODT
The majority of Queenstown residents surveyed in the most recent Mood of the Nation online survey believe international tourists are putting too much pressure on New Zealand.

Seventy-eight percent of the Queenstown respondents said there was too much pressure, nearly double the percentage number of those surveyed in other towns.

Pressure on infrastructure was the top concern, followed by damage to the environment, and overcrowding of national parks and the great walks.

Anonymous comments in the report included things like " ... infrastructure is not keeping up with demand, also road congestion in Queenstown area is nothing short of diabolical".

Another wrote: "We need tourists but too many can be damaging to the local environment if we don’t manage it properly, which is what is happening in a lot of small towns."

The Mood of the Nation is an online survey conducted by the Tourism Industry Association twice a year to provide insight into New Zealanders’ sentiment about international tourism.

The first survey was conducted in December 2015 and the most recent was done from November 4 to 27.

About 1800 New Zealand residents aged 18 and over from each of the 14 most popular tourist destinations took part.

The vast majority of the survey respondents said international tourism was good for New Zealand, but 52% said the predicted international growth was "too much".

The survey found the "perceptions of negative impacts of tourism" were strongest among those living in Otago, the West Coast and Northland.

In Otago, the increased risk of serious road accidents, a higher number of road accidents and increased traffic congestion on holiday routes were the top three negative impacts of international tourism.

Almost half of the Otago residents surveyed perceived there to be too many international visitors but at the same time "were likely to overestimate how many international visitors came to New Zealand each year".

The value of international tourism was now more than $17billion a year and for the fourth successive year was New Zealand’s top export earner.

The survey found Otago residents were the most likely to know that tourism was the top export earner but 76% of Otago residents surveyed underestimated the value of tourism.

Three key insights from the survey were the vast majority of New Zealanders continued to agree international tourism was good for New Zealand, its residents remained welcoming of international visitors and were proud their country is an attractive destination, but over time there has been an increase in perceptions that international visitor numbers are too high.

The ODT contacted the Queenstown Lakes District Council, Destination Queenstown and Lake Wanaka Tourism for a comment on the survey results but none responded.

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