7 Sep 2012

Dunedin to crack down on cowboy tour guides

10:42 pm on 7 September 2012

Dunedin's tourism industry has launched an accreditation scheme to crack down on cowboy operators.

Cruise ship visitor numbers to Dunedin are booming, and are expected to rise again this summer by 20% to 230,000 people in 89 boats.

Industry group Kiwi Host spokesperson Norcombe Barker says there were big problems last year with groups under-cutting the market, bad-mouthing their competitors and other city attractions, and giving the city a bad name.

Mr Barker says the new accreditation scheme means every taxi driver, bus driver or tour operator who goes on to the wharf at Port Chalmers will be trained and signed up to the code of conduct.

The first group of 60 drivers and tour guides was trained in a new code of conduct on Friday.

Mr Barker says it will be up to the industry to police itself, but Dunedin Host will follow up any complaints and strip operators of their accreditation if they are out of line.

Malcolm Budd, the regional manager of Richies Coach Lines, says he is delighted with the scheme because the cruise ship trade is vital to his company and must be protected.

Mr Budd says cruise ship lines have been threatening to kick everyone off the wharf onto the streets outside the port's gates.

He believes that would cause chaos and congestion on the street and could lead to operators fighting against one another.