Trampers alarmed at proposals by big tourism to weaken conservation law
The Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand (FMC) is deeply disappointed in the Tourism Industry Aotearoa's (TIA) call to weaken the law that protects New Zealand's conservation estate.from private profit.
The tourism industry, has put out an election manifesto, which calls for greater private sector access to public conservation land, among a raft of other ideas.
Peter Wilson, President of Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand, which has 20,000 members said that he was alarmed and concerned at the proposals, which had not been discussed with FMC prior to being launched.
"I fear that big tourism sees our national parks and conservation estate simply as cheap land ripe for development. Big tourism seem to have no respect for our taonga, our natural heritage, and our birthright as kiwis. Instead they just want to weaken the laws that protect our conservation land in order to make a quick buck".
"Most tourism by volume in New Zealand happens off the public conservation estate, and kiwis will strongly resist any land grab", he added.
Mr Wilson is also disappointed because he believed that the tourism industry was genuinely aware of its public perception and problems. "We thought we were in a dialogue with these guys", he stated.
"We have an opportunity here for a truly sustainable tourism industry, one based on value and not volume, but it seems that big tourism has no interest in this, and want our public lands to sustain their growth".
Mr Wilson stated that FMC had written to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Paula Bennett, calling for a "strategic tourism taskforce" consisting of stakeholders and industry to address the problem, but had not heard back.
"We genuinely want to see tourism happen in the right way, and are happy to talk about that, but given the latest proposals from the industry, it looks like we have to prepare the defenses for our public land instead", Mr Wilson concluded.