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Making tourism sustainable

Thursday, 4 March 2021

The four suggested steps needed for sustainable tourism will be outlined by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton at the Heritage Queenstown on 18 March. His free public lecture launches this year’s Tourism Policy School (TPS), at the tourist resort.

TPS Co-convenor and University of Otago Department of Tourism Professor James Higham says the pause in global tourism due to the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to take stock and plan for a more sustainable future for what has been New Zealand’s major export earner.

Simon Upton image
Simon Upton.

Simon Upton’s recently published reports on the NZ tourism industry highlight the environmental challenges facing it, and the need to make some significant changes in how tourism is managed in this country.

Mr Upton’s report Not 100% – but four steps closer to sustainable tourism was released last month. It makes four proposals he suggests could make a real difference to some of the problems facing tourism in NZ. These problems were outlined in the Commissioner’s earlier report, Pristine, popular…imperilled? The environmental consequences of projected tourism growth (2019).

The four proposals include introducing a departure tax, making future central government funding for tourism infrastructure conditional on environmental criteria and alignment with mana whenua, increasing DOC’s powers to protect the environment, and strengthening the existing standard for self-contained freedom camping.

“It is very timely to have Simon Upton present this year’s public lecture. His recent report identifies challenges facing the tourism industry, raising policy recommendations that should be widely discussed and debated,” Professor Higham says.

The TPS is convened by the Otago Business School and the Department of Tourism at the University of Otago. It is a full day invite only event that takes place on Friday 19 March.

The theme of this year’s TPS is 'Net benefit tourism: A new approach’. The first TPS was held in Queenstown in 2019, last year’s event was cancelled due to the global pandemic.

Simon Upton brings a wealth of knowledge to the speaker’s podium, including being the Environment Minister during the enactment of the Resource Management Act in 1991, and working as Head of the Environment Directorate from 2010–2017. Based in Paris, the Environment Directorate helps countries design and implement effective policies to address environmental problems and sustainably manage natural resources.

Registration for the public lecture is free thanks to the generosity of University of Otago Business School; the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment; Destination Queenstown and Queenstown Lakes District Council. Attendance is limited and participants must register to confirm their attendance, Professor Higham says.

Tourism Policy School public lecture

Date: Thursday 18 March
Time: 4pm
Venue: Heritage Queenstown

For more information, contact:

Professor James Higham
Department of Tourism
University of Otago
Tel +64 3 479 8500

Kerry Dohig
Communications Adviser (Otago Business School)
Tel +64 3 479 4336
Mob +64 27 232 2047

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