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Report is a reminder that tourism needs to step up

Environmental Impact Report a reminder that tourism needs to step up

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s Report is a timely reminder that the industry must ‘act now’ to manage its environmental impact, Regional Tourism New Zealand says.

The report - “Pristine, popular… imperilled? The environmental consequences of projected tourism growth” – released today, looks at what ongoing business-as-usual tourism growth could mean for the environment, and for the vulnerability of the tourism sector.

Regional Tourism New Zealand Executive Officer, Charlie Ives, welcomed the report saying its projections made it even clearer that serious investment was needed into managing tourism, if the environment was to be protected.

“The report tells us that tourism is not immune from environmental impact, and as an industry we must play our part in protecting the main asset at the heart of our domestic and international tourism industry: our natural landscapes,” Mr Ives said.

He said that Regional Tourism Organisations around the country are aware of the environmental footprint of tourism. However, local government, as the major investor in regional tourism, needed more tools to be able to raise the funds needed to manage it.

Effective destination management provides for infrastructure, attractions and facilities that meet the needs of visitors and communities alike, and safeguards a sustainable tourism system.

Last week the Productivity Commission released its final report into Local Government Funding and Financing, which looked at how the growing impacts and demands of tourism could be funded. Disappointingly, it removed the recommendation of a user pays system to supplement ratepayer contributions.

“That decision is exactly the sort of non-joined up approach which is causing issues at a local level, and hampers efforts to manage tourism more holistically, including environmental impact. Visitor pay levies needed to back on the table,” Mr Ives said.

“We shouldn’t be afraid of the projected visitor growth numbers in this report. Flourishing domestic and international tourism is a great opportunity for regions to prosper, provided it’s well managed,” he added.

About Regional Tourism New Zealand

Regional Tourism New Zealand (RTNZ) is the name for the incorporated trust of 30 existing Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs).

It was established as a Charitable Trust in 2005, with the objects being to represent the interests of the collective RTO sector in New Zealand.

As the peak body for RTO’s RTNZ aims to encourage better coordination amongst RTO’s as well as ensuring collective RTO’s are engaged and consulted with on issues critical to the development of the regional tourism sector in New Zealand.

The activities RTNZ engages in include:

Developing RTNZ submissions on issues and draft plans that impact the collective

Providing advice and assistance to members

Developing and maintaining ongoing relationships with stakeholder agencies

Negotiation and execution of project-based funding contracts

Managing and implementation of projects on behalf of RTONZ

Coordination of media enquiries

Advocacy of the RTO sector and the important role it plays in the New Zealand tourism landscape

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