Share |NZ still needs to do some work if it wants to develop a sustainable tourism industry. This by necessity includes some investment, not in more welfare, but in the infrastructure which supports its export businesses, and that includes:
1. Roads - Here is a story of people dying in a road accident. In fairness to NZ, its plausible that the scenery was so compelling that these tourists took their eye away from the road. And of course there is a price to be paid for laying 3-lane highways everywhere - not just in financial terms, but in terms of the scenic experience itself. This commentary therefore has to be a warning for tourists to take it easy on the roads. i.e. You might think in 'quiet NZ' you are alone on the road, and can pull over anywhere for a photo, or that you can afford to take your focus off the road, but at an inopportune time, a car can appear from around a corner, or a car can seek to overtake you at 110kmph...ambivalent about your 'photo moment'. My greatest concern with NZ roads is that they are a poorly laid legacy of old roadworks. They have not be regraded to offer better contouring; just resurfaced. So they are not well-engineered for remote, single-carriage roads. Incidentally, tourist trails are even worse in terms of signage. NZ is already working on these issues, but it will take time. The Wanganui-National Park highway section is almost finished. Yes, it's a highway. But spare a thought for minor back roads.
2. Racism - I see that NZ Tourism is promoting NZ to Asia. This is fine. The problem is the high level of anti-Asian sentiment in NZ. This is going to be an obstacle, both because of its entrenched presence, and because of recession. Might I note that the country of the moment is Indonesia. How is NZ going to handle a lot of 'towel heads' ('Muslims') coming to NZ? Are they going to welcome them, or persecute them under some notion of payback. This is not to say all NZ'ers are like this. Its a 50/50 split. You get those who will go out of their way to be kind; and then you get the other extreme. These are the people who will undermine the tourism industry. To their credit, the tourism industry appears to have been working with the media industry to downplay this negativity. I've seen a number of examples lately of NZ portraying Asians in a positive light, i.e. A Japanese/NZ couple transforming the fashion market; a Korean NZ'ers who won the junior golf championships.
NZ has a lot to offer...it would be a shame to cause Asians to spurn it as a tourist or immigration destination. The government does seem to have moved in the right direction. The tourist agency has a good strategy. The question is whether NZ is 'with them'. Do NZ'ers appreciate its tourist industries? These are not the easiest times to attract tourists. Most Asians are staying and travelling within Asia. Its a recession and the Australian and NZ currencies are high.
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