2 Oct 2020

National tourism policy proposes freedom camping framework

1:01 pm on 2 October 2020

The National Party is proposing a national framework for freedom camping as part of its tourism policy announced today.

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National Party leader Judith Collins. (file photo) Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Leader Judith Collins, spokesperson for tourism Todd McClay and spokesperson for Māori tourism Harete Hipango announced the policy - most of which had already been made public - from Secret Spot Hot Tubs in Whakarewarewa near Rotorua this afternoon.

National would:

  • Implement a consistent and transparent national framework for freedom camping and investigate a freedom camping licencing regime
  • Build new tourism infrastructure by working with councils and using funding from the proposed Infrastructure Bank
  • The $100 million Tourism Accelerator Fund announced in June, which would provide direct funding for businesses and tourism operators
  • Allowing travel bubbles with neighbouring Covid-free countries when it is safe to do so
  • Allow accomodation providers to act as privately run managed isolation facilities
  • Support the TRENZ conference with $5 million for the next two years and enhance the collection of accommodation and tourism data
  • Ban any new bed taxes, freeze any new charges or levies for tourists
  • Launch the New Zealand Tourism Festival to showcase the regions and encourage domestic tourism
  • Investigate having cruise ships operating domestically over summer
  • Begin work to establish National Parks in the Coromandel and the Catlins, and build two new Great Walks

The freedom camping measures would include barring campers without their own toilets from parking further than 200m from public bathrooms - a policy the party also had at the previous election - as well as "empowering more government organisations to limit freedom camping on land they control and providing stronger enforcement of fines for rule-breakers".

The party also signalled it would modernise the Conservation Act and National Parks Act, and enhance collection of tourism data.

It said the Tourism Accelerator and TRENZ funding had already been announced and included in the party's fiscal plan, with the remaining policies to be funded thorugh a Tourism 2025 Fund, paid for by unallocated Tourism Infrastructure Fund and International Visitor Levy money.

Collins said New Zealand was in the worst economic crisis in living memory and the Tourism Minister has been "invisible".

"National has listened to the sector and developed a plan to work collaboratively by partnering with local government, iwi and tourism sector representatives as well as tourism businesses to speed up decision making and cut out the bureaucracy."

McClay said the party would "build a vibrant and sustainable sector that can proud of what it contributes to New Zealand by supporting and creating jobs".

The party's policy document committed it to developing Māori tourism but did not identify any specifically targeted funding for Māori organisations.

Hipango said Māori tourism would be supported "through our tourism plan so that the essence of Māori tourism continues to be represented to the domestic and international market".

During a debate on Wednesday, Collins claimed $21bn of exports had been lost through international tourism and international students, but this appears to be false. This is the amount tourism and students contributed to the economy in 2019, and spending was only down 50 percent in the June quarter.

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