New Zealand asks visitors to pledge to protect environment amid concerns over impact of tourism

'New Zealand is our home. It is precious. Everyone who lives and travels here has a responsibility to look after it'

Chris Baynes
Sunday 18 November 2018 13:25
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New Zealand asks visitors to pledge to protect environment amid concerns over impact of tourism

New Zealand has launched a campaign urging visitors to respect the environment, amid concerns over the impact of tourism on the country.

Passengers on flights into the nation will be shown videos promoting the “Tiaki promise”, a set of guiding principles drawn up by the government and the tourism industry.

“Tiaki” means to “care for” in New Zealand’s indigenous Maori language.

The campaign encourages visitors to pledge they will protect the country’s natural environment and respect local customs during their trip.

In the two-minute video, a voiceover says: “New Zealand is our home. It is precious. Everyone who lives and travels here has a responsibility to look after it”.

Tourism has thrived in New Zealand in recent years, overtaking the dairy industry as the nation’s leading source of foreign income in 2016.

Over the past year, about 3.8 million tourists visited the country, which has a resident population of just under five million. The largest numbers of tourists came from Australia, China and the United States.

Stephen England-Hall, the chief executive of Tourism New Zealand, said that without specific guidance, tourists often default to behaving as they do at home.

“In some parts of the world, it’s common to litter, and people are paid to pick up the litter,” he said. “If we don’t say ‘don’t litter,’ people will. And in the peak season, it can be a problem.”

There is said to be growing resentment among New Zealanders at the increasing popularity of so-called “freedom camping”, in which tourists pitch a tent or stay in a motor home outside of a designated camping area to save money. A lack of toilets and trash bins mean they often leave a mess behind.

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Mr England-Hall said the new campaign was not specifically directed at freedom campers but was designed to send a broader message. He said he hopes tourists will search for information about the Tiaki promise online or be informed at places such as car rental agencies.

The campaign will also be promoted on its website and social media.

It also reminds tourists to respect Maori culture, prepare properly for hiking and other outdoor activities, and drive on the left side of the road.

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