Problems brewing in Paradise
People often say, “You can have too much of a good thing.” Usually, when they don’t have enough of the ‘thing’ they are talking about and are jealous of those that have.
Can you really have too much money, too many holidays, too much free time? Can you be too successful? No, I didn’t use to think so either.
But, maybe there is such a thing after all. At least if the problems currently being experienced by New Zealand are anything to go by.
Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t talking about some mass malady which has mysteriously struck a very person in the country.
However, we are talking about issues which affect New Zealand’s most lucrative industry – tourism. And it’s all a result of New Zealand having too many tourists wanting to visit.
What was it I said about you can’t have too much of a good thing?
New Zealand is an amazing country to visit and it surely occupies a place on most travellers ‘must-see’ list. For adventurers, explorers or those who enjoy a sedated pace in a beautiful environment, New Zealand can cater for all. Or, possibly it can’t.
The problem New Zealand is facing is that because it is so popular it has reached peak capacity for the number of tourists it can welcome to the country.
In a nutshell, there is simply not enough accommodation to house the number of people who wish to visit the country.
Unlike Australia, which despite perceptions to the contrary, is more than 4,000 km away across the Tasman Sea, which has a huge infrastructure able to accommodate the hordes of tourists who descend on its golden beaches every year, New Zealand just can’t cope with the massive increase in tourists it has seen recently.
A tourist boom which could lead to bust
In 2016, New Zealand welcomed 3.5 million short-term visitors. Nearly 2 million more than in 2014. This huge increase, whilst fantastic on paper, is making the infrastructure crack with hotels and other accommodation being unable to cope with demand.
Whilst, on the face of it, this does seem to be a nice problem to have, there could be some very real and very serious repercussions for the New Zealand economy.
Tour operator, Quinton Hall, told Bloomberg News: “If we don’t fix these things and look to the long term, we’ll be putting a cap on our own growth.
“We’ve got a natural cap on our peak period right now because we just don’t have the accommodation in New Zealand. Even if they wanted to come, they couldn’t find anywhere to sleep.”
Straining to cope
It isn’t only the lack of accommodation which is causing issues. The massive influx of visitors is putting an enormous strain on an infrastructure which is simply not designed to cope with the demand.
Attractions don’t have the car parks or facilities to cope with the number of people wishing to come and the beautiful natural parks and mountains are being overrun by eager tourists. Even the sewerage systems of the remote communities are being…..over-loaded.
The need to invest in the infrastructure to improve facilities, open up more attractions, and increase accommodation capacity is obvious. But is it affordable?
Local councils have estimated they need over a billion dollars to achieve their aims – the government have allocated less than NZ$20 million. A huge shortfall, despite tourists paying over NZ$1 billion in sales taxes annually.
If the problems with the tourism infrastructure aren’t addressed there could well be some long-term damage to the economy. If tourists aren’t able to visit or have a less than enjoyable time when they do, they are unlikely to return and the ripples will be felt across the whole of the economy.
But, that is for the politicians to sort out. One thing is clear. If you plan to visit New Zealand any time soon you had better book early.