Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Enough talk – time for action on tourism’s environmental impact, says commissioner
05:00, Feb 19 2021
Parliament’s environmental watchdog says the tourism industry has been carried and cosseted for too long, while its impact on the environment has been largely ignored. In a new report released yesterday, Simon Upton says it’s time for real action, not more marketing spin and hollow talk about “sustainability”. Mike White investigates how tourism has become a problem area, despite being a crucial part of New Zealand’s economy.
Poor Simon Upton.
Just three months after the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment released his first report into the looming calamity of tourism’s unbridled growth, New Zealand shut its borders, due to Covid-19.
And in the wake of Covid, it might have been easy for Upton to say, okay, problems solved, crisis averted, and abandon the second part of his investigation.
But Covid will eventually end, planes will start flying, international tourists will begin arriving again, and New Zealand will remain an extremely attractive destination.
And when international tourism does resume, Upton says we can’t slide back to business as usual, with all the pressures and pinch-points we saw before Covid – tourism has to be done differently, and be much less environmentally harmful. There will have to be trade-offs between growth and nature.
Upton’s report makes four recommendations: a departure tax reflecting the cost of international flights’ CO2 emissions; greater involvement of communities in tourism projects; more power for the Department of Conservation to preserve natural attractions; and much tougher regulations for freedom campers.
…Read more: https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/124272550/enough-talk–time-for-action-on-tourisms-environmental-impact-says-commissioner
Given New Zealands hard border lockdown policy, their tourist industry is a little academic right now. But just in case any New Zealand tourism entrepreneur survives the Covid pandemic, the Ardern government is readying to greet your business relaunch with a raft of new taxes, government oversight bodies and restrictions.
Correction (EW): Not all tourism activities are being discouraged. New Zealand’s Ardern government has paved the way for an expansion of sex tourism, giving honours and recognition to sex workers – so I guess at least one eco-friendly tourism activity, selling pretty New Zealand girls and boys to visitors, will be encouraged under the new laws.