New Zealand is close to receiving two million tourists per year, excellent for leisure industry revenues but a figure that worries those who want to conserve the environment.
According to The New Zealand Herald the country’s conservation department welcomes the visitor increase, but conservationists worry the growth has outpaced New Zealand’s ability to protect spots that attract most tourists. The Department of Conservation has welcomed the influx, while noting the growing challenges that rising tourism numbers pose for New Zealand’s world-revered backyard.
New figures showed 1.75 million international tourists, or 52 per cent of all visitors, travelled to a national park in the year ending March – an increase of five per cent.
The New Zealand Herald report that at Franz Josef Glacier, numbers over the period grew nine per cent to 750,000, with the glacier valley receiving about 6000 visitors a day during peak season and at times a 30-minute wait for car parks.
Milford Sound, a fusion of spectacular natural features with amazing visual cues around every corner, continued its trend of about nine per cent growth annually over the past five years, with more than 4500 visitors on its busiest days and 810,000 visitors for the 12-month period.
No tourist visiting New Zealand will probably stop visiting Milford Sound. The place was carved by glaciers during the ice ages.
Roys Peak, near Wanaka, had a 27 per cent increase, with more than 75,000 people visiting, resulting in queues for photos at the now famous rock overlooking Lake Wanaka .The tourist interest is justified. Roys Peak is a mountain in New Zealand, standing between Wanaka and Glendhu Bay. Roys Peak is a mountain that offers a full-day walk, with views across Lake Wanaka and up to the peak of Mount Aspiring/Tititea.
Tourism in the Hooker Track, a wonder of nature, increased by 35 per cent and numbers to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park are estimated to be about 945,000 in the year ending March 2018, showing a 17.5 per cent growth. One in eight New Zealanders also visit public conservation land and water at least once a year.
Domestic tourists are an important figure in New Zealand and the International visitor numbers were predicted to increase by a further million over the next six years. Tourism remains New Zealand’s largest export earner, now pulling in NZ$36 billion (US$25 billion) in expenditure annually, NZ$14.5 billion (US$10 billion) of that coming from international visitors.
But the environmental organization Forest and Bird chief executive Kevin Hague argued the growth had outpaced New Zealand’s ability to protect the special nature of those places that most attracted tourists. Hague said to the New Zealand Herald that he wanted to see the tourism industry shift to the point where fewer tourists were visiting our wilderness, but were staying for longer, and spending more.
“Except for in some isolated pockets, we have failed to do that”, he added. He also backed an international visitor levy that would channel money back into New Zealand’s biodiversity.