New Zealand is known for its stunning landscapes, and increasingly, for adventure tourism... but more tourists can equal more damage, and a new pledge for arrivals is looking to help change that. It's easy to see why travelers are flocking to New Zealand - the scenery is absolutely incredible, and outdoorsy tourists love the option to enjoy everything from watersports to hiking to bungee jumping. However, an increase in tourism isn't always a good thing.
In many places, landmarks and natural spaces are becoming damaged by careless (and often drunk) tourists. Only a few weeks ago, a centuries-old wall in Thailand was graffitied by backpackers on a night out, and some popular spots around the world have even been closed to tourism to allow them to recover. A new pledge created by Tourism New Zealand hopes to prevent this happening in the Land of the Long White Cloud, by educating visitors on how to behave.
The Tiaki Promise Initiative was announced this month by Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis on behalf of Air New Zealand, the Department of Conservation (DOC), Local Government New Zealand, New Zealand Maori Tourism, Tourism Holdings Ltd, Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA), and Tourism New Zealand. The initiative begins with a video that will be shown on all Air New Zealand flights into the country as well as in visitor centers, which encourages visitors to drive carefully, be adequately prepared for camping and outdoor adventures, show respect to culture, nature, and local people, and keep NZ clean (especially by avoiding littering).
The essence of the pledge is summed up in the translation of the word Tiaki, which means 'to care and protect people and place'. Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Stephen England-Hall is optimistic that this approach of encouragement and education will help preserve this beautiful land for future generations, while allowing visitors to enjoy it;
New Zealand is known for its warm welcome to guests and the Tiaki Promise builds on that by inviting the world to stand alongside us, so our home can be enjoyed for future generations of Kiwis and visitors.
There's little doubt that over-tourism can be damaging to an area, and taking steps to prevent that is a good thing. However, some will no doubt argue that this simply doesn't do enough to prevent messy campers leaving garbage behind or enthusiastic-but-unprepared tourists straining local resources by getting lost. With visitor numbers continuing to swell (by over a million in the past five years), it remains to be seen whether this pledge will do enough.