Asia Minute: New Zealand Targets Sustainable Tourism

May 15, 2019

Queenstown, New Zealand from Bob's Peak | 2011
Credit Lawrence Murray / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

Hawaii is not the only set of islands dealing with changing expectations for the tourism industry. This week, New Zealand has recalibrated its goals for visitors, and their impact on the economy and the environment.

Just five years ago, New Zealand hoped its annual visitor spending could reach 41 billion dollars by the year 2025.

It’s already reached 95% of that goal. So now there’s a new target, 50 billion dollars by 2025.

But there’s also a new phrase that’s part of the updated strategy document from hospitality leaders: a “Sustainable Growth Framework.”

More than 1,500 visitor industry leaders are gathered this week for an annual conference put together by the Tourism Industry Aotearoa. That group’s chief executive said tourism in New Zealand faces three key issues: managing the growth of tourism, improving management of natural resources and acting on carbon and climate change.

He also acknowledged the rapid growth of the visitor industry has brought “challenges as well as benefits” – saying “locals may find that their ‘hidden gem’ destination is now a hit on Instagram and has seen an influx of visitors.”

The New Zealand Herald reports that a national survey last week found that 26% of those responding believe there are too many tourists in the country.

Government figures put the number of visitor arrivals at 3.8 million a year — up by more than a quarter from just five years ago.