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Kaikoura to lead the way in sustainable tourism

Kaikoura seeking to lead the way in sustainable tourism

One of New Zealand’s fastest growing tourist towns, Kaikoura, is facing significant pressure on its social and natural resources, an environmental tourist expert said today.

Kaikoura is likely to suffer an increasing impact on the environment as well as the district’s community because of the rapid increase in tourist numbers, Nelson tourism consultant Kirsty Quickfall said today.

``This pressure could ultimately result in a decline in visitors as environmentally-aware tourists choose destinations that not only say they care for the environment but actually take steps to protect the environment tourists come to see,’’ she said.

Quickfall will speak about the benefits of sustainable tourism at the first international Green Globe conference in Kaikoura on March 3-5. She said a possible result of reduced tourist numbers could, if the decrease is sufficiently high, lead to an economic decline.

``Given the hard lesson of the district’s past economic problems when unemployment was estimated at 90 percent among the Maori community, such an economic prognosis is one that Kaikoura’s community are keen to avoid.

``The community is therefore keen to ensure that the growth in tourism is sustainable.

``We have the potential to not only become the eco-tourism capital of New Zealand but also a truly sustainable future and such a future is one that will benefit everyone.’’

An estimated 873,000 tourists visited Kaikoura in 1998 which rose to 1.4 million in 2001, according to a Lincoln University report.

Since whale watching began in 1987 Kaikoura has seen a massive increase in tourists which has resulted in more waste being produced by accommodation and food outlets. Also the new economic prosperity and potential that tourism is bringing to Kaikoura is resulting in extra development and more building work.

By last year the South Island seaside resort had made major advances in waste management with people from around New Zealand and the world wanting to find out how they adopted their zero waste policy, Quickfall said.

Meanwhile, local government officials, community representatives, tourism and sustainable operators, researchers, business people from New Zealand, Australia and other countries will attend the Green Globe conference next month.

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

Green Globe is the world’s only global tourism certification programme. It aims to set a system responding to major environmental problems facing the planet as well as seeking to achieve environmental, social and cultural improvements at global, national and local level.

Green Globe benefits were economic, in reducing costs and it also improved efficiencies in using less energy.

Copyright 2004 Word of Mouth Media NZ

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