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Tourism crucial for all New Zealanders

New Zealand offers fantastic tourism opportunities and researchers at Lincoln University are making sure we are equipped to take full advantage of them.

David Simmons, leader of the research, said that tourism is becoming a major economic sector in New Zealand.

"The effects of tourism are felt not just in the main urban areas but throughout the country as communities of all sizes seek to gain benefits from increased tourist flows," said Prof Simmons.

"As our tourism industry develops New Zealanders are increasingly being asked to share their natural environment and their culture"

The Foundation for Research Science and Technology has invested in this research to develop better planning and management of tourism in New Zealand communities. Two of four in depth case studies have now been completed.

"One of these studies looked at Kaikoura. Ten years ago tourism was pretty much non existent, now it constitutes 30 per cent of the local economy. As this percentage increases so does the need for new planning processes and structures," said Prof Simmons.

"Places like Rotorua, which have a longer history of tourism involvement are better prepared for future tourism growth. Our research has indicated many ways in which local institutions can work together in tourism planning and development."

The study incorporates a broad range of disciplines including economics, sociology, geography, Maori studies, and environmental science and planning. As well as studying "host-guest" interactions, the research has also been mapping and measuring tourist flows, tourist activities and resource costs.

"Our maps clearly show some visitors, such as those from Asia tend to concentrate around Rotorua, Christchurch and Queenstown, while European visitors are much more dispersed and can contribute more to local regional economic development," said Prof Simmons.

"Because tourism affects the lives of most New Zealanders and there is currently little discussion of its long-term effects, the research team has taken a strong educational role in disseminating its results."

The study is moving to make the interactive maps available on the Internet for use by industry and planners.

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