With the last of the winter tourists hardly out of the country the first of the summer crowd is already on the way and we are still not ready for them.
Like a persistent sponging relative no one wants to offend the tourism industry is asking for massive amounts of money from taxpayers and ratepayers to provide much need facilities for the clients.
No one it seems wants to ask the question; why should ratepayers fund this self-serving exploitative and damaging industry over and above any other industry?
Our district councils appear to lack the courage, common sense or ability to tell the tourist industry to fund their own promotions. When regional councils spend ratepayers’ money it is generally to mitigate and control the adverse impacts of agriculture and other industries. When the Government spends millions of taxpayers’ dollars monitoring and controlling agriculture and the fishing industry it is to ensure those environments are protected from over exploitation. Only the tourism industry it seems assumes the right to tap into ratepayer for promotion and to meet the demand for essential infrastructure they create.
Many smaller district councils struggle to provide essential infrastructure for their ratepayers let alone massive increases for an industry which brings little in the way extra rates to pay for them.
We don’t need extra funding for tourism infrastructure as much as we need to put urgent and effective constraints on the tourism industry to protect New Zealand from the ravages of visiting hordes while there is still something of our wild and special places to protect.
Too many small communities have fallen in the trap of assuming tourism will be good for them. It won’t be. Without checks and balances it will change some communities beyond recognition and drive some people out of their home towns.
A visit to Milford Sound at the height of the summer tourism season will shock and sadden those unprepared for the spectacle of over-crowding at was once a remote and beautiful place. Also in summer funeral processions of dangerous campervan drivers on highways, human waste on our bush tracks and many scenic places closed to locals all thanks in part to unmitigated tourism which assumes the right to dip to the pockets of ratepayers and taxpayers to fund their industry.
Up until now those who have warned that a lack of adequate infrastructure, particularly public toilets was becoming a serious problem were simply ignored. That reality has arrived like an unwelcome relative demanding more of our money and it is time to say no!
They will probably plead that tourism brings jobs and extra money that eventually flows into the nation’s economy. This is far from the truth and we can say that about all industries but they don’t come demanding millions of dollars to support them.
We also risk dispossessing New Zealanders, whose heritage is being exploited by unmitigated tourism. We don’t need more taxpayer and ratepayer investment in tourism, we need fewer tourists. Not just a few hundred fewer but tens of thousands fewer.