8 Dec 2020

100% Pure Tourism - Sarah Bennett

From Nine To Noon, 9:30 am on 8 December 2020

Are the costs of tourism too high? The new book 100% Pure Future, New Zealand Tourism Renewed explores this question.

The nine essays in 100% Pure Future, New Zealand Tourism Renewed explore how a more sustainable form of tourism could be achieved in New Zealand.

Lupins at Milford Sound

Lupins at Milford Sound Photo: Aneta Foubíková / Unsplash

The book's editor, travel writer Sarah Bennett, first noticed that "the wheels were starting to fall off" New Zealand's tourism industry about a decade ago.

"Everyone needs to pay the bills. A lot of these businesses in all sorts of faraway places were getting genuine benefit from tourism but you could see that they were feeling… quite conflicted, actually."

Instead of money in tills, we should look at economic yield as the measure, Bennett tells Kathryn Ryan.

"If we just start valuing tourism purely in dollar terms - our visitors and particularly internationals and how much money they spend - we're sort of missing a trick. We need to consider the climate, as well."

The tourism industry is "flying a bit blind" due to a lack of economic data that could help define new goals, she says.

"We're selling something that is not being particularly well managed so I think it's time to look at where the spend goes and maybe up it."

"It hasn't been a hard sell, New Zealand tourism, but maybe some of that investment should have been diverted in the past and now into examining governance structures.

The global pandemic is a chance for a reset, Bennett says.

"It's a wonderful industry fo generating change. It's a vehicle for good when it's done well and I think that's where the opportunity is here."

"If we can have a conversation, shake out the issues, we can maybe re-legislate, help councils a bit more… and create genuine generational change that will set us up."

It's now time for conversations about whether New Zealand should cap visitor numbers and which kind of visitors we should be targetting, she says.

"I'm a great fan of a German backpacker. They stay for six months. This makes their carbon spend very economical."