Tourism was number one export earner from the late nineties until 2010.
Dairy then had its boom but has since dropped back with tourism moving into the number one spot over the last few years.
A new Government-commissioned report shows that the Government enjoys a net benefit of more than $2.6 billion a year from international tourism, confirming that international visitors are more than paying their way.
International visitors spend $14.5 billion a year in New Zealand – our biggest export earner. The money circulates throughout the economy, and the Government ends up with a net gain of more than $2.6 billion.
By 2025, the tourism industry is aiming to grow to an annual tourism revenue of $41 billion, with the 2018 Valuation coming in at $39.1 billion.Tourism 2025
Yet when we drive around our country we see very few infrastructure catering for tourists.
As an example, during November and December, the lupins (yes, lupins seen by many as a weed and others as a fodder crop for high country sheep) bloom in all its glory.
The lupins provide a dazzling show of colour against a backdrop of snow-covered alpine peaks.
State highways in the Mackenzie basin and the Lindis Pass provide a stunning road trip with vast patches of purples, pinks, blues and yellows along
It has become a significant tourist attraction with many campervans and rental vehicles congregating at these spots and each tourist wanting a selfie and/or calendar shot of the patchwork of colour.
So why don’t we have appropriate parking areas at these spots along our highways allowing safe parking, exit and entry of vehicles.
Where are the road signs alerting tourists of the best spots to take photos, and safe parking
Where are the bathroom facilities? We have a reputation of great, clean and quirky toilets across the country, but are we really building on that reputation?
As Jo Knox states in her book, “Kiwi-As Toilets” – “No other country does toilets
This coffee-table book aims to give the country’s top toilets the recognition they deserve. It confirms that when we provide toilets, we generally do them well. But regularly it is reported in the media that tourists are responsible for using nature as their toilet.
The question really is are we providing appropriate infrastructure for the tourists who come here to enjoy our beautiful country?
Are there appropriate facilities at the appropriate locations?
During 2017, the Government established the Tourism Infrastructure Fund to fund visitor-related public infrastructure especially small communities struggling with the volume of tourists.
No doubt this will lead to better experiences for travellers but is it a matter of too little too late?
Are we identifying these short comings in our Infrastructure Strategies and Asset Management Plans?
Are we including these projects in our Long Term Budgets?
We are all benefiting from tourists, should we not improve the tourist experience?
Should we not consider how we can apply our specific utility/service to complement existing natural resources while protecting it?