Chris Roberts, chief executive of TIA emphasises that while everything points to ongoing growth, that growth does have a price and almost every country is addressing this concern. ‘We may not have thought we would have this conversation a few years ago and now it’s all about how we deal with it. People are noticing tourism and its pace of change,’ he says. ‘We have particular issues around infrastructure in New Zealand. Then there are the reputational issues – a small number of badly behaving freedom campers can colour the public’s overall perception of visitors.’ So, Roberts says, there needs to be a new line of thinking. ‘We don’t do tourism for the hell of it, we do it to deliver social and economic prosperity for communities. We must remain focused on value, not volume,’ he says.
‘Tourism 2025 was focused on an economic goal and now we need to add some layers and part of that is with story telling. People want to know how are we managing the challenges that come with this growth and we have to tell our stories better.’ Roberts says there are a number of ways in which TIA will tackle these challenges. ‘Our big goal is that all sectors of business understand the value of tourism and are advocates for the industry,’ he says. One of the ways is the New Zealand Tourism Sustainability Commitment, launched by TIA last year. ‘This provides concrete benchmarks and advice to tourism operators about how they can improve their businesses across four elements of sustainability: looking after the environment, thriving as businesses, building welcoming and supportive host communities, and pleasing customers,’ says Roberts.
- Sam Worthington