New Zealand Unable to Cope with 9% Rise in Tourist Numbers -updated

NZ can't cope with influx of tourists

A modest rise in visitor numbers means NZ’s infrastructure is found wanting

If you’re considering either vacationing or emigrating to New Zealand spare a thought first for the people who have to live there, and the impact it will have on them.

New Zealand’s fragile infrastructure (resident pop. only 4.4 million) is under pressure from the effect a modest 9 % rise in tourism numbers this year is having on it. Not only does that detract from  visitor enjoyment (not much fun when the hotel runs out of water) but it also makes life a lot harder for the people who have to live there.

The impact of a rise in tourism numbers extends further than just shops and cafes running short of food supplies, people having to queue, a 8% hike in the cost of a hotel room, and twin pricing in major tourist centres.  Auckland University of Technology professor of tourism Simon Milne told Radio NZ’s Summer Report essential resources are suffering and the pressure means the country runs the risk of degrading Kiwi’s good will towards tourism as smaller communities feel its impacts:

Drought, dangerous roads and water shortages

“We’re seeing major pressure placed on our infrastructure and very essential resources.

“So we’ve seen water shortages in places like Hamner which are exacerbated by tourist numbers.

“In many popular towns, especially in places like the South Island, we see a great deal of pressure also placed on public facilities – public toilets, parking spaces – all of those are placed under a lot of pressure from increased visitor numbers.

“So, our challenge really is to say, how do we perhaps spread some of those visitor numbers outside of the peak season, how do we perhaps think about managing the total number of visitors that come to our country, is it a time to start looking in the future a carrying capacity, an overall capacity, beyond which we don’t want to develop?”

He said roads, crowding, congestion and poor driving behaviour needed to be addressed.

“As we encourage more visitors to come to New Zealand and to explore the country as free and independent travellers we’re opening up those risks and those challenges on our roads.” source

The government’s tax take from the tourism surge is unlikely to be invested back into infrastructure (improving dangerous roads, building more sustainable transport methods, rural water treatment plants etc.) improving the country’s freshwater quality or assisting the one in three children who live in poverty.

Tourism more of a burden than a blessing?

Which raises the question, where do all these tourism dollars actually go?

And…are poor quality tourists not spending as much as NZ needs them to? Is New Zealand’s economy, dragged down by decreases in the price of milk solids and falling dairy payouts, in such a fragile condition that tourism is more of a burden than a blessing? Even Royal Dutch Shell called it a day at the end of December, sounding the death knell for the New Zealand government’s ambitions of becoming a world leader in oil and gas exploration, and diversifying the country’s economy beyond agriculture and services exports. The company has been in New Zealand for over a century.

Golden Week

“Golden week” is due to start on February 7 as nearly 50,000 Chinese visitors are due to land in New Zealand. The event coincides with the Chinese New Year holiday break when the country’s massive middle class travels overseas en-masse. The influx is already set to test South Island tourism operators and “no one is complaining” according to a press release in Stuff.co.nz. People in the tourism industry may not be complaining,  but will the visitors themselves be as happy by the time they leave? The figures show that their recommendation ratings are fairly low.

Some interesting tourism insights

  • 3 million people visited New Zealand in 2015
  • Total tourism spend in NZ reached $29.9 billion for the year ending March 2015 but domestic tourism expenditure was over half of that – $18.1 billion
  • Visitors generate $2.5 billion in GST revenue
  • Australia is NZ’s largest visitor market with 1.2 million people but only 478,496 of them were on holiday – the majority are on business and family travel. Australian tourists spend an average of $2,400 per holiday
  • Chinese visitors (237,000) spend about $3,200 per holiday, China is New Zealand’s 2nd largest visitor market
  • 67%  of tourists from SE Asia,  65% from China,  and Japan (53%) are among those who have have the worst recommendation satisfaction scores after visiting NZ
  • Facebook is the most heavily used social media site for sharing information about holiday experiences in NZ
  • The majority of tourists engage in low cost  options such as walking, hiking, geothermal or cultural activities.

A Year later – January 2017

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Record tourist numbers put pressure on towns (NZ Herald)

A tourism boom, driven by record numbers of Chinese visitors, is bringing prosperity to the South Island’s tourist towns – but it may be at the expense of locals.

International visitors grew 9 per cent last year, driven by a 34 per cent increase in Chinese tourists.

It was the first time New Zealand had more than 3 million visitors in one year. Within the next decade, the number of visitors is expected to exceed the resident population…

Hostility towards tourist drivers was one example of that occurring, [Chief executive of tourism NZ] said. New Zealanders could also face higher prices and longer waiting times for attractions, in addition to the pressures on resources.

“It may come to a point where pricing mechanisms may need to be used to restrict numbers of visitors,” he said.

“Much of our tourism industry relies on publicly funded and publicly accessible resources — maybe there will be a time where we need to look at clawing back some of the costs from the industry and the tourists who use those resources.”

No room inn the capital (Radio NZ)

It calls itself the Events City but more than a month before the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo arrives in Wellington, it appears every bed in the capital has already been booked.

“Wellington is chocka-block, the pipes have been calling and the tourists have flocked to Wellington. [It] looks like every room in town is full for that weekend, conflating a ridiculously busy summer for New Zealand in general and for Wellington.”

El Nino forecast to remain strong until March (Radio NZ)

The current El Nino weather pattern will continue for at least the next three months, according to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa).

El Nino can lead to intense storms in some places and droughts in others, and the current one is one of the strongest on record.

In New Zealand El Nino caused drier-than-normal conditions in east coast areas and more rain than normal in the west.

In its latest seasonal outlook, Niwa said the east of the North Island was most likely to be hotter than normal, and rainfall was most likely to be below normal for the north of the North Island.

However, the west of the South Island was forecast to get more rain than normal.

Fishers told to be patient as El Nino continues (Radio NZ)

People who want to go fishing in small boats this summer are being advised not to get impatient if the weather’s against them because of El Nino.

Niwa says the current El Nino pattern will continue for at least the next three months.

El Nino can lead to intense storms in some places and droughts in others, and the current one is one of the strongest on record.

Recreational Fishing Council vice-president Sheryl Hart said it was generating more frequent rough seas and big swells that often prevented smaller boats from going out.

She said people needed to be careful.

“Fishermen who are probably starting to get desperate because they want to go – your life it’s worth a little bit more than that.

Tourist town – Hanmer Springs –  runs out of water (Radio NZ)

The North Canterbury town’s reservoir ran dry because it could not meet demand.

The intake was turned off for a while to clear plastic bags and other debris, and there was more demand during the rest of the day than there was water coming in.

“During that cleaning, of course, the pumps were off and the reservoirs simply didn’t keep up with the heat of the day, with the huge demand. Once the debris was cleared, the pumps were working and overnight the reservoir was filled.”

(District mayor) Mr Dalley said soaring temperatures caused the rise in demand and he was urging residents to still be mindful of their water use.

A tourism operator in Hanmer Springs said running out of water in the midst of peak holiday season was concerning for businesses in the town.

More refugees, but no extra funding (Radio NZ)

A mental health support agency for new refugees says it may have to cut services if it does not get extra funding for the increasing number of Syrian refugees.

The next intake at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre is expected to arrive this week, but staff say the government has not responded to a request for extra funding.

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6 thoughts on “New Zealand Unable to Cope with 9% Rise in Tourist Numbers -updated

  1. It’s because from day 1, the future was only considered as far as the next week or so. This goes for everything here, the location of schools, universities, rail lines and stations, roads just everything you can think of.

    It’s like NZ was created by this gigantic baby the size of a mountain, who was randomly placing its toy houses and cars where ever, with no thought of proximity.

  2. I think it’s because a lot of people are so lazy here. People turning up their stereos at all hours of the night on weekdays and the authorities not doing a thing about is yet another example of NZ’s lack of infrastructure. Noise Control is a joke. I’m hoping to be out of this country for good soon.

    • I can’t speak for what Noise Control is like in the area you live in Kate, but I’ve called them on numerous occasions, when neighbours have had stereos at ridiculous volumes, and in general have found them quite good. I’ve also had to call the police when the neighbours were outside shooting a slug gun at the local birds. What I did find is that NO ONE ELSE WOULD CALL THEM, making it look like I was the only one who had a problem. People would then find out it was me that complained, and I’d get them banging on my door and harassing me. I’ve even been told by people that I should just put up with it.

      The Kiwis don’t seem to want reasonable behaviour from each other, but they do seem to be perfectly okay with protecting a perceived right to behave like a complete jerk, and don’t like it at all if someone asks for civilised behaviour (very much like a bunch of schoolyard bullies who complain about being told off when they are caught doing something wrong).

    • Noise Control….ha ha. We used to live in Northshore and had one of the neighbor working on his construction project way past 8pm. I read on Auckland council website which says that the cut off time was 7pm so I called up their complaints department and the lady on the other side acknowledged that she was able to hear the loud banging on the phone. It appeared the one of the council person toured the construction site and didn’t find it as a noise that could be recorded on their effing meter. I repeated the same complaint process about 5 times in 2 months before deciding to move out. Trust me, we were paying $650 p/w to get up to unnatural alarm (thanks to the construction) at 7am till evening. To top it all, the workers used to play some loud music too and according to the council they can play anything till 7pm. uffffffffff!

  3. New Zealand infrastructure barely works, even WITHOUT an increase in visitor numbers. In many places power cuts are not unusual (where I live at the moment we get AT LEAST one every two months), internet cut offs happen frequently (at least once a week, often for as many as two hours or more, but even when working the speeds are PITIFUL), water shortages happen EVERY YEAR in the summer (nothing is done about this of course), bus services RARELY run on time (in many places you have to own a car, because bus services can’t be relied on to get you to work on time), roading is of shockingly poor quality (most New Zealand highways are nothing more than country roads and are unsafe over 80 kph based on international standards), housing is of a quality that is so bad that 1,000+ Kiwi kids end up in hospital every year, mostly with respiratory problems (and there are about 100 preventable deaths). The list goes on and on. There is almost NO part of the country that functions properly.

    I have friends in the former Soviet Union (from actual Second World countries) who have less problems with infrastructure than we have in New Zealand.

    • I was hoping to get to Wellington for the Military Tattoo in the latter part of February they are still heavily advertising tickets on TV but there’s absolutely no accommodation available that weekend for love or money. What sort of a capital city is that? I wonder whether the promoters are ever aware that it was never going to be a sellout event, as the infrastructure simply can’t cater for the numbers and besides which the average couple would be looking at upwards of $600 for airfares to get there. What a rip off!

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