Tourists trampling on New Zealand’s tranquility

New Zealand’s adventure tourism industry is already under intense scrutiny over last week’s White Island volcanic eruption. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 18 December 2019

Tourists trampling on New Zealand’s tranquility

  • The South Pacific nation has long marketed itself as “100 percent Pure” and “clean and green,” but has seen a huge growth in visitors in recent years
  • An official said infrastructure was already strained, the environment was under pressure and many of the qualities were disappearing

WELLINGTON: Ever-increasing numbers of tourists are harming New Zealand’s environment and destroying the very qualities that make the country an attractive destination, a parliamentary report warned Wednesday.
The South Pacific nation has long marketed itself as “100 percent Pure” and “clean and green,” but has seen a huge growth in visitors in recent years, from millenials snapping selfies at “Lord of the Rings” filming locations, to climbers, hikers and wildlife enthusiasts.
The report from parliamentary commissioner for the environment Simon Upton comes as New Zealand’s adventure tourism industry is already under intense scrutiny over last week’s White Island volcanic eruption, which killed 16 international travelers and two tour guides.
Upton said New Zealand — with a population of 4.9 million — attracted almost four million international visitors annually and the number could treble by 2050.
He said infrastructure was already strained, the environment was under pressure and many of the qualities associated with New Zealand were disappearing.
“The sheer numbers of people are eroding the sense of isolation, tranquility and access to nature that many overseas tourists seek when visiting New Zealand,” he said.
“We need to ask: ‘Are we in danger of killing the goose that laid the golden egg’?“
Upton said New Zealanders were also part of the problem, pointing out that Kiwis on domestic holidays outnumbered overseas tourists at major holiday spots.
He said New Zealanders had become accustomed to the sight of renowned attractions such as the Tongariro Crossing being “besieged with visitors” and the problem would only intensify.
Upton said for too long the tourism industry had escaped the environmental scrutiny imposed on other sectors such agriculture and mining.
However, there was little incentive for the government to restrain the country’s most lucrative industry, generating about NZ$16.2 billion ($10.7 billion) in export earnings annually.
“We didn’t get to where we are overnight — the phenomenon of crowded sites, crowded skies and crowded parking lots is the result of more than a century’s worth of promotional taxpayer subsidy,” he said.
“What will another three decades of more of the same mean?.”
Upton said more visitors meant more greenhouse gases from flights to New Zealand and more waste entering the country’s waterways, as well as a higher risk of tourists importing pests and bio-security hazards.
Upton’s role as commissioner is to produce independent reports highlighting issues facing the environment for parliament, rather than the government of the day.
He said he only highlighted problems in the report, and planned to wait for feedback then put forward solutions in a follow-up paper.
Trade body Tourism Industry Aotearoa said it was committed to sustainability and agreed with Upton’s assessment that new approaches were needed to manage environmental impacts.
“Nobody wants tourism at all costs... we want to work with our communities to shape the tourism future they want,” TIA chief executive Chris Roberts said in a statement.


Pakistan Hindus rally in Islamabad over India migrant deaths

Updated 25 September 2020

Pakistan Hindus rally in Islamabad over India migrant deaths

  • The dead migrants’ relatives have held small rallies in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province but this was the first time they had taken their demonstration to the country’s capital
  • The protesters accuse India’s secret service of poisoning the 11 Hindus

ISLAMABAD : Pakistan’s minority Hindus rallied late on Thursday in Islamabad, briefly clashing with the police, to protest the deaths of 11 members of a Hindu migrant family who died in India last month under mysterious circumstances.
Since then, the dead migrants’ relatives have held small rallies in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province but this was the first time they had taken their demonstration to the country’s capital, vowing to stage a sit-in near the Indian Embassy.
The protesters accuse India’s secret service of poisoning the 11 Hindus, who were found dead at a farmhouse in India’s Jodhpur district in Rajasthan state. The demonstrators arrived in Islamabad around midnight, chanting, “We want justice.” They briefly skirmished with officers who prevented them from reaching the embassy site.
After the Aug. 9 deaths, Indian media reports suggested the Hindu family members, originally from Pakistan, had taken their own lives. Official Islamabad says New Delhi had not shared any reports of the case.
Thursday’s rally was an unusual move for Pakistan’s Hindus, who have mostly lived without conflict with the country’s predominantly Muslim majority. Earlier this year under pressure from radical Muslims, Pakistani authorities halted construction of a Hindu temple in Islamabad.
Ramesh Kumar, a top leader of the Hindu community who led Thursday’s protest, met on Wednesday with Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, seeking his help in pressuring India to release results of the initial police probe into the case.
Pakistan has also asked for access to a Hindu worker who was at the Jodhpur farm at the time of the deaths, according to government officials.
In his meeting with Qureshi, Kumar said Shrimati Mukhi, the daughter of the head of the family that died, had levelled the poisoning accusations. She earlier this month told local media that India allegedly pressured the family to issue a statement denouncing Pakistan’s government. There was no official comment from India on the allegations.
Last week, Pakistan summoned an Indian diplomat to convey concerns over the “Jodhpur incident.” A subsequent ministry statement said India had “failed to share any substantive details regarding the cause and circumstances of the deaths” of the Hindus and asked for a comprehensive investigation.
Nuclear armed rivals Pakistan and India have a history of bitter relations. Pakistan’s military said Wednesday that two of its soldiers were killed by Indian fire in a cease-fire violation in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. The region is split between the two countries but claimed by both in its entirety. India and Pakistan have fought two out of their three wars over Kashmir since gaining independence in 1947.

Related