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Countries Re-Evaluating Tourism Benefits

Countries Re-Evaluating Tourism Benefits

Some countries are reconsidering the overall benefits of tourism following the explosion in the tourism industry in recent years, a New Zealand academic expert on eco-tourism said today.

In the last two years, international tourist arrivals have totalled just under 700 million. World tourism flows have trebled in the last 30 years.

The impact on popular destinations has caused some to re-evaluate the benefits, tourism expert Brian MacKenzie said. MacKenzie is director of special projects at Tai Poutini Polytechnic in Greymouth.

``Majorca, whose tourist numbers grew from around 400,000 in 1960 to around 10 million by the turn of the century, introduced in 2002 an 'eco-tax' to pay for improvements to the infrastructure, and repair some of the damage caused,’’ he said.

``Some argue that human interaction with the environment is an inevitable consequence of the fact that we share the planet with its waterways, flora and fauna; that it is important to our mental and spiritual health that we do so.

``Others say that the ecology of our physical environment is so fragile that it needs a degree of protection that can only be offered by completely excluding humans.’’ MacKenzie will be a speaker at the world’s first international Green Globe sustainable tourism conference in Kaikoura on March 3-5.

Large numbers of experts, lecturers, specialists and environmental people involved in sustainable tourism from overseas and from New Zealand will attend. The world's first Green Globe conference will enable people to exchange ideas about sustainable tourism and to hear what is involved in becoming a Green Globe company and community. MacKenzie said there was an international debate about what constituted a light footprint in the eco-tourism industry. ``The ‘light footprint’ debate is often the place where general discussions about ecotourism start and stop; and where those discussions get confused with the broader discourse on the ‘greening’ of business,’’ he said.

Green Globe is the only world-wide environmental certification programme designed for the travel and tourism industry.

Many operators in New Zealand became the first Green Globe benchmarked operations in the world. They included the first holiday park (Kaikoura Top 10,), the first tour operator (Action Stations), the first in the cruise boat category (Black Cat), the first bed and breakfast accommodation (Summer House), the first hotel, Sheraton Auckland, the first convention centre, (University of Canterbury) and the first vineyard (Kaikoura Wine Company).

Kaikoura became the first tourist resort in New Zealand – and only the second community in the world - to earn Green Globe status in 2002.

Copyright 2004 Word of Mouth Media NZ

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