New Zealand tourism on right track for future
20 September 2005
New Zealand is one of a handful of nations whose tourism industry is concerned about preserving its assets for the
future, according to the international keynote speaker at the New Zealand Tourism Industry Conference, Keith Bellows.
In a thought-provoking speech today, the vice-president of the National Geographic Society and editor-in-chief of
National Geographic Traveler said the future of the tourism industry was in environmental sustainability.
Tourism had ballooned in the last 50 years and many of the world’s favourite destinations were in danger.
“The onslaught of pollution, the mistakes of politicians, the press of tourism itself, conspires to ruin what we love
most. For if we do not take care, many of these places will not survive to see the year 2050.” Before World War II, no
more than a million people travelled to another country in a year, but today Italy had that many foreign visitors in a
week, Mr Bellows said.
In 1950, 27 million people visited US national parks but today the figure was more than 350 million.
In 1988, 2.4 million people visited the Vatican but 10 years later it was 3.1 million – a 29% increase.
“International trips are expected to top one billion by 2010 – a thousandfold increase in a human lifetime.” Baby
boomers were reaching retirement age when they would have the time and disposable income to travel, while China also
offered a huge and growing source of international travellers, he said.
But travellers were increasingly turning away from mass-market, packaged travel and were instead seeking individual and
That was where niche destinations like New Zealand held an advantage.
“But what you must do is be selfish. Be true to yourself and understand that travellers will embrace what you have to
offer.” Sustainability should be a priority in everything the tourism industry did, he said.
“It must go beyond encouraging customers to save water and towels. It must be embedded in your message – a message to
leave a place as it was found.”
Mr Bellows also stressed the importance of educating the younger generation about “responsible tourism”.
“It’s their future that’s at stake – and the future of the travel industry.”
Conference carbon neutral
National Geographic Traveler is supporting efforts to make the Tourism Industry Conference a carbon neutral event by
donating $100 a day.
Delegates have been asked to contribute $7.50 each towards neutralising the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions generated
during the conference.
Natural assets vital to tourism
In a separate address, the Director-General of the Department of Conservation, Hugh Logan, said New Zealand’s tourism
industry was built around our natural environment and it would continue to be a major attraction for visitors.
Public conservation lands were a national asset which added significantly to local economies, with one study showing the
90,000 visitors a year to Abel Tasman National Park contributed $45 million to its local economy.
DOC’s current relationship with the tourism industry was better than it had ever been but there was still room for
improvement, Mr Logan said.
“The challenges will increase as tourism grows. We need to balance the aspirations of conservation, local communities
and the tourism industry,” he said.
DOC and the tourism industry must continue to work together to protect New Zealand’s natural heritage but they must must
careful not to alienate local communities and recreational users of public lands.
“Have fun, but let’s not wreck the joint as well,” Mr Logan concluded.
He also announced a new DOC conservation excellence award to recognise tourism operators’ efforts to protect and promote
the natural environment. The first award will be presented at the New Zealand Tourism Awards in 2006.
The Tourism Industry Conference concludes tomorrow at SKYCITY, Auckland.
Key statistics about tourism:
- Tourism is the world's fastest growing industry
- New Zealand tourism arrivals have doubled in size since 1994
- Forecast annual growth is 6% on average for at least the next five years
- Tourism is New Zealand's single largest export sector and contributed $7.4 billion dollars to the economy in the year
ended March 2004.
That is 18.5% of exports
- Tourism directly and indirectly employs 10 percent of the work force.
That is one in 10 jobs in New Zealand.
- Tourism represents 9.6% of gross domestic product and generates nearly $500 million in GST returns from international
visitors each year. Tourism is the only export sector whose international clients pay GST.
The Tourism Industry Association represents 2000 businesses and organisations within the tourism industry.
Members include airlines, airport companies, and regional tourism organisations, rental car, coach and taxi companies,
inbound tour operators, accommodation providers, tourism attractions, researchers, training organisations and tourism
Tourism is New Zealand’s largest export earner – accounting for 18.5% of this country’s export earnings.
The Tourism Industry Association organises the New Zealand Tourism Conference, TRENZ and the New Zealand Tourism Awards.
Go to www.tianz.org.nz