Before the pandemic, the number and volume of posts from popular locations that were virtually flooded by Instagram hordes grew exponentially. Residents of popular tourist areas struggle to see that the tourism industry has a positive impact on their lives, while visitors report unpleasant experiences due to overcrowding.
In the spring of 2020, global tourism is at a standstill. Borders were closed, airline flights and cruises were cancelled and hotels closed, bringing the flow of visitors to a complete halt. Many workers in the tourism and supply industries have been laid off, temporarily or permanently. The sunscreen has been washed off the newly emptied tourist beaches and the marine life has returned.
All talk of overtourism has disappeared as discussions in popular destinations have shifted from managing visitor traffic to surviving the business year.
Before the pandemic, New Zealand (Aotearoa in the indigenous Maori language) was one of the countries that showed early signs of hypertourism. New Zealand is a relatively small country, with a population and land area roughly equal to that of the state of Colorado, and it welcomed nearly 4 million visiting tourists in 2019, or one visitor for every resident. Tourism growth hasn’t quite saturated Venice yet, but some of the country’s most unpredictable attractions are already starting to fill up a bit.
In 2018, Tourism New Zealand launched the Tiaki Promise to raise awareness of the need to respect the local environment. The following year, the country introduced a tax on international visitors to fund conservation and sustainable development projects, such as expanding the number of predator-free nesting sites for endangered native birds.
So even before excessive tourism became a pressing problem in New Zealand, the government was already making adjustments to ensure that future visitors would contribute to the well-being of the environment and its residents.
When COWID-19 closed the country’s borders (and is scheduled to remain closed to international tourism until 2021), the economy was undoubtedly affected by the sudden cessation of the influx of tourism dollars. Although this closure was of most benefit to the tourism industry, in the early days of the pandemic the New Zealand government seized the opportunity to change the way tourism affects and benefits the country by creating the Tourism Futures Task Force.
Rene de Monchi, acting chief executive of Tourism New Zealand, explains: International visits are not expected to return to their previous levels in the coming years. This is a fantastic opportunity to ensure we are well positioned to cope with growth and manage visits strategically to enrich our home. The work of the Task Force on the Future of Tourism should contribute to this.
The goal of public-private partnerships is simple: to secure the future of tourism that enriches the well-being of New Zealanders. The task force will come back to the government with recommendations in the coming months, but Tourism New Zealand is also developing and planning for the four wellness capitals in the future: Economy, nature, culture and society.
In addition to large-scale photo efforts, Tourism New Zealand also hopes to reduce congestion at popular destinations by spreading tourists throughout the calendar year and promoting less-visited parts of the North and South Islands,
To fully appreciate the diversity of New Zealand’s landscapes and experiences, we recommend [travellers] visit a number of areas on both islands. In Northland you will be welcomed with open arms by the warm, tropical climate and Maori culture. Be among the first in the world to see the new day dawn in Gisborne. In the south, Nelson Tasman offers exhilarating walks, kayaking and artisan cuisine, while the rugged west coast is an epic journey. If you really want to get off the beaten path, head to Stewart Island, where you’ll find breathtaking views of the stars and wildlife, says de Monchy.
Other ideas in the pipeline are aimed at attracting visitors outside the southern summer months of December to February.
Spring and autumn are ideal times to travel in New Zealand. In spring, visitors can explore our incredible waterfalls like Milford Sound, enjoy fresh produce in areas like Hawke’s Bay and see places like Hobbiton in full bloom. Walks through the foliage are popular in Central Otago in autumn, the Great Walks are not over yet and the sun is warm enough to swim in our rivers and lakes, says de Monchy.
Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has clarified when international travellers can return to New Zealand: when all New Zealanders have been vaccinated and there is strong evidence that vaccination will prevent the spread of the virus.
In the meantime, travelers can rest assured that the country’s tourism partners are working to ensure that New Zealand remains an attractive destination for visitors and New Zealanders for decades to come.
The author acknowledges the importance of certain diacritical marks in the Maori language, such as. B. tohuto (macron), but some are omitted for reasons of web browser compatibility.
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