25 Apr 2016

Toilets 'not our major infrastructure issue'

6:38 pm on 25 April 2016

Extra toilets and car parks will help but more is needed to improve the experience of visitors, tourism leaders say.

no caption

Photo: RNZ/ Tom Furley

Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism John Key has said there will be money in next month's budget to help councils struggling to deal with freedom campers and backpackers.

The budget is due to be presented next month.

Several councils have complained about their lack of ability to tackle campers who park on the side of a road, often leaving behind rubbish or waste.

Mr Key said when tourists didn't stay in holiday parks, motels or hotels, it was a real problem for local councils - and there would be more money to help them build infrastructure.

Tourism Industry Association chief executive Chris Roberts said a holistic approach needed to be taken.

"There's been a few stories about not enough toilets or car parking and it would be great to get that fixed, but that's not our major infrastructure issue in New Zealand," he said.

"It could be, for a small town, can its wastewater system cope, can its sewage system cope, does it need better water availability, does the roading need improving?"

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull welcomed the prospect of increased funding to deal with the growing number of freedom campers.

He said it was necessary to have facilities where people were sleeping but it was also about finding balance.

"Do we want to have facilities popped up in every beauty spot around the country where people might want to camp?"

"In the end, we could be spoiling the environment they've come here to see."

Mr Cull said it was too early to tell if the $200 fine for illegal camping introduced by Dunedin last year had had an impact.