Saturday, 2 February 2019

Pesky tourists

By visiting New Zealand, we were of course adding to the growing problem of over-tourism in the country. Tourists are flooding in by the thousand and the most popular places are struggling to cope with the influx. In Queenstown visitors outnumber the locals 34 to one, and overall tourist numbers will soon overtake the resident population of 4.8 million.

One English family caused widespread outrage recently by shoplifting, refusing to pick up their rubbish on a beach, and throwing food on a café floor. The whole family were issued with deportation notices.

The government is to introduce a tourist fee of 35 New Zealand dollars (£18.50) to fund conservation and improved infrastructure. They are also doubling fees at campsites. But the Mayor of Queenstown says much more needs to be done.

One reason for the tourist increase is of course The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. Many people want to see the locations where the films were made. The number of Chinese visitors is also rising rapidly.

Personally we didn't see much evidence of over-tourism. In most of the country the traffic was pretty light and few tourist attractions were overcrowded. But no doubt the locals see things differently if they're constantly exposed to uncouth and selfish visitors.

Well, it's unlikely we'll be going to New Zealand again, given the lengthy flights. We've satisfied our curiosity and I don't think any return visits would live up to the magic and excitement of our recent tour. I think our next holiday will be closer to home. We haven't been to Edinburgh for a while....

Pic: Tourists visit boiling pools of volcanic mud and water at Wai-O-Tapu, North Island

23 comments:

Ms Scarlet said...

Cornwall was gridlocked last summer; Instagram was blamed for the influx of tourists to what used to be lesser known coves and beaches. Yes, Cornwall needs visitors, but it doesn't have the infrastructure for a social media deluge.
Sx

nick said...

Ms Scarlet: Social media definitely plays a part in over-tourism. Photos of lesser known beauty spots and places of interest can reach thousands of people in a second, and suddenly lots of them want to visit those once-unknown places. I gather Pedn Vounder was over-run after a few photos of Cornwall's "Caribbean" went viral.

Film locations are to blame as well. Porthcurno beach and Kynance Cove in Cornwall have been overwhelmed because of Poldark filming.

Rummuser said...

In the town where I live, Pune, we have tourists of a different kind, the so called Swamis and Swaminis of the Osho Ashram here. The ashram is located just across a river that flows between where I live and another locality and there is some spill over from there to here of these visitors. They are not a nuisance but, odd and to me at least look totally lost!

Another favourite destination is Goa now ruined by over tourism of a different kind again, thanks to Russian Mafia introducing drugs and prostitution beside other unsavoury activities. Foot falls are getting lower every year due to this and the locals are happy but, the restaurants, hotels etc are not.

nick said...

Ramana: The swamis can't be doing a very good job if their visitors are looking totally lost!

I'm sure Goa residents are happy to see fewer tourists, but are they happy with the drugs and prostitution? I wouldn't have thought so.

Bijoux said...

I was unaware that those movies were filmed there, but I'm not a movie goer. I'm not sure what the answer is. Obviously, the price of flights don't seem to deter others as much as they do me!

nick said...

Bijoux: I know, long-haul flights are expensive. And quite a few people on our NZ tour seemed to be serial travellers - guided tours, cruises, luxury hotels etc. We were wondering where they get all that money!

tammy j said...

I was just thinking the same as your reply to Bijoux! where do all those people get the MONEY???!!! just to go to either coast here in the US is extremely costly. the traveling part being the least of the expense! so happy there are wonderful photographers who capture all the world's exquisite places for me to see! :D

CheerfulMonk said...


I'm glad you enjoyed your trip!

We were lucky enough to see New Zealand in 1965. Some of the scenes are still vivid in my mind, especially one pristine lake where the water was so clear you could see the bottom. I've never had the urge to go back --- it just wouldn't be the same.

Joanne Noragon said...

When I was a child and my family camped all over the United States beginning in the forties and to the current time, the RULE was to leave any camping site cleaner than we found it. That continues to the current generation; my daughter and her husband pack out any trash. On the other hand, I have no problem visualizing the tourists who violated decency. It has become a new norm.

Linda Sand said...

I wish we could teach everyone, "Take only pictures; leave only footprints."

nick said...

Tammy: Indeed, you can see all the world's most amazing sights while sitting in your favourite armchair!

Jean: Miraculously, there are still lakes with water so pure you can see the bottom. Blue Lake in the South Island is said to be the clearest natural body of fresh water in the world.

nick said...

Joanne: That camping rule is a good one. I never drop litter anywhere, I always dispose of it properly. But the amount of litter left on Northern Ireland beaches is staggering. There is so much unabashed selfishness nowadays.

Linda: A good principle. Though we often found our view of beauty spots obstructed by the "photo-a-minute" brigade.

Wisewebwoman said...

I've always heard wonderful things about New Zealand, did you take pictures?

We are overrun by tourists in the summer too (tourist count exceeds the population) but the island is so large it's not a problem. Yet. The only problem is a shortage of accommodations.

I find the locals the worst for trash tossing here and have spoken to a few who have turned around and threatened me (!!) for interfering in their business of trashing the planet.

On the other hand I organized a coastal clean up day in my former town which was a smashing success.

XO
WWW

nick said...

www: New Zealand is wonderfully unspoilt. It has some of the cleanest lakes and rivers in the world. Jenny took a few photos but nothing like as many as the other trippers.

It's appalling that so many people feel they have the right to dump their rubbish anywhere they fancy - even in remote spots where nobody will ever remove it.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I do my level best when traveling to avoid the more touristy spots. And I hate that some tourists, like the shoplifting/littering family ruin things for the rest of us more respectful travelers.

CheerfulMonk said...

Thank you for telling me that there are still lakes with that crystal clear water. That warms my heart.

nick said...

Agent: We do the same. We won't be going back to Venice because it's totally swamped by tourists. It's no fun moving at snail's pace in a heaving crowd of visitors.

Jean: It's wonderful to see on a planet that's more and more polluted and contaminated.

Tanza Erlambang said...

yes, I agree that over-tourists everywhere now, and drive by social media.
have a great day

nick said...

Tanza: Over-tourism is now a major problem all over the world, as you say.

Just looked at your blog. I had never heard of oarfish before. I see their flesh is not very edible due to its gelatinous texture. That's good to know - chances are they'll be left alone rather than killed.

Jenny Woolf said...

NZ do have the space for tourism. But really the attraction there is the natural beauty and man made attractions would probably be rather tacky by comparison.

nick said...

Jenny: The natural beauty is just stunning, especially the Southern Alps and the lakes and glaciers. Fortunately as yet there is a lack of man-made monstrosities spoiling the beauty.

Joared said...

So hard to understand how anyone who cared enough to visit nature’s wonders would thoughtlessly trash them. Beaches are left with trash here, too. Groups organize to clean them. When Govt. shutdown here, a very unique area, Joshua Tree Nat’l Monument, the area was without adequate supervision. Visitors left incredible amounts of trash. Off-roaders tore up portions of desert, destroying some of the Joshua Trees that will take hundreds of years to restore.

One of my favorite sites I’ve enjoyed several times is the Grand Canyon in Arizona. I’ve read tourist influx in recent years has caused the Park Service to have to alter visitation there from when we visited by car, also by air years ago.

Recall visiting a U.S. Florida lake in the fities with water so clear when we looked through the glass-bottomed boat at. what we were told were very large catfish — they were so deep in the lake as to appear as little more than small perch. I wonder if that water is still clear?

nick said...

Joared: I can't understand people who quite casually and deliberately dump rubbish and cause damage to beauty spots, especially as you say damaging trees that take hundreds of years to grow back.

I wonder how many of Florida's lakes are still so pure? Not many, I suspect. I googled just one, Lake Okeechobee, and found it had been heavily contaminated with arsenic and pesticides.