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Tourism industry backs bird report

June 1, 2017 Business News No Comments Email Email

New Zealand’s tourism industry is throwing its support behind efforts to preserve our unique bird species.

A new report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment highlights what is needed to protect New Zealand’s native birds.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa Chief Executive Chris Roberts says the report supports the tourism industry’s own efforts to maintain and enhance our natural environment.

“The report is sobering and every New Zealander should be concerned about the plight of our native birds.

“New Zealand’s natural environment is our foundation tourism product. It is the biggest reason why international visitors come here, it is important to domestic travel and it supports thousands of tourism businesses. Good environmental performance goes hand in hand with a quality visitor experience,” Mr Roberts says.

A large number of tourism businesses already make significant contributions of time and money to conservation projects, such as Rotorua Canopy Tours, winner of the Air New Zealand Supreme Award at the 2016 New Zealand Tourism Awards. The company makes a big investment in trapping predators to maintain the plants and wildlife in the bush where it operates.

All tourism businesses operating on the public conservation estate also contribute financially via the concession fees they pay to the Department of Conservation.

“TIA is currently working with the industry on how it can more clearly demonstrate its commitment to sustainability and to champion the interests of our environment,” Mr Roberts says.

“New Zealand can achieve great things by consciously giving priority to the preservation and enhancement of our natural resources. In a highly modified, resource-constrained world, New Zealand has an opportunity to show, in a planned and deliberate way, environmental leadership and integrity.”

TIA’s 2017 Election Manifesto, Tourism for Tomorrow, calls on the incoming Government to demonstrate a serious commitment to protecting the environment, recognising its importance to tourism, including measurable progress on Predator Free New Zealand.

It also calls for a sustainable funding model to ensure DOC remains a significant contributor and enabler of the visitor experience without compromising its core role of growing conservation.

However, taxing New Zealand’s visitors is not the answer, Mr Roberts says. Visitors already make a huge contribution to New Zealand’s economy through their spending and the GST they pay.

“The threats to our native birds do not come from overseas visitors. A border tax would be passing the buck. As New Zealanders we need to take responsibility for what we have allowed to happen to our birds and we must do something about it.”

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