TIA expects some of the recommendations in the masterplan will attract widespread support from the tourism industry, such as weaving in mana whenua values, and improving the walking and cycling opportunities along the corridor to Milford Sound Piopiotahi, encouraging visitors to slow down and spend more time in the region.
Park and ride opportunities would help manage congestion, while having one body to manage Milford Sound Piopiotahi would potentially remove frustrating layers of bureaucracy.
However, proposals to restrict access by cruise ships and to close the airstrip will be unpopular with the directly affected businesses, Roberts says.
‘If these recommendations are picked up by the government, it will need to work with businesses to mitigate the impacts.’
The New Zealand Cruise Association says it is ‘most concerned’ that the Milford Opportunities Project has recommended cruise ships should be banned from Milford Sound.
Chief executive Kevin O’Sullivan says the proposal is mentioned in little detail in the report and is lacking supporting information.
‘The fiords are controlled for cruise ship activity by Environment Southland through a Deed of Agreement with the cruise industry. The deed was first put together 20 years ago; it has worked well and has been renewed recently after considerable negotiation,’ says O’Sullivan. ‘The Opportunities Group gives no information on how a ban would be introduced and the cruise industry would resist what appears to be a poorly thought out idea. Cruise ships are generally in Milford Sound briefly early in the morning and in the late afternoon so they mostly do not represent any issues for other users or visitors.’