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Milford Sound Visitor Experience

Milford Sound Visitor Experience

11 July 2017 - An independently commissioned report into the Milford Sound tourism experience shows that record numbers of visitors have not affected the overall level of satisfaction and almost all (90%) would highly recommend the destination to others.

“The number of visitors has virtually doubled in five years so we expected some effect on the wilderness experience but you can’t get a recommendation much higher than that - it’s pretty impressive” says Jeff Grant, Chair of Milford Sound Tourism.

The research, the most robust measure of crowding done to date, was conducted by Professor Juergen Gnoth from Otago University, who concluded that it “can give us confidence that these visitor numbers are not yet at a critical threshold”.

365 people were surveyed from 22 nationalities at random using both qualitative and quantitative survey methods in Te Anau and Milford during February and March this year (2017).

Jeff Grant says Milford Sound Tourism commissioned the research because of a perception of crowding. “We wanted to find out how much truth there was in this and develop a survey instrument that could monitor the visitor experience in the future.”

Around half of those surveyed were slightly annoyed by the numbers of tourists, vehicles and noise they encountered however this did not affect their enjoyment overall with 78% replying positively that they “truly felt the wilderness and natural quiet”.

The services provided by Milford Sound Tourism (car parking, the terminal and boat access) generally found favour with visitors, with those arriving from Queenstown the most appreciative.

“We have made, and continue to make significant improvements to the visitor experience with new walkways, a larger airport shuttle bus, the introduction of a new traffic management system over summer and upgrades to wastewater and hydro-electric power infrastructure,” says Jeff.

The survey found that those travelling in by coach were significantly less affected by tourist numbers than those visiting by car. The majority of those travelling in to Milford Sound (57%) stopped three times or more and 80% highly rated their trip through the National Park. 91% of all visitors purchased a boat tour.

Americans judged the Milford Sound experience the highest, followed by Australians and Kiwis, Europeans and lastly Asians.

The report recommends that further measures be taken on days with higher visitor numbers and that ongoing monitoring and further research be undertaken in the future.


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