Tourism Industry Aotearoa says giving Kiwis first shot at booking on some of the country’s most popular Great Walks is an idea worth exploring.
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has announced that from October, international visitors will pay double for the huts and campsites on the four most popular Great Walks, for a trial period of seven months.
TIA is supportive of the trial. TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts says the organisation has been encouraging DOC to introduce differential pricing for some time.
“These are iconic, world-class experiences and our international visitors will still get great value for money. The Great Walks are heavily promoted and it makes no sense that DOC has been losing money on them. The Department needs to set its charges at a level that allows it to maintain the facilities.”
TIA also supports the Kiwi Share concept, promoted by Federated Mountain Clubs, of a new DOC booking system to give Kiwis a brief early booking window for the most popular tracks, before opening it up to international visitors.
“We don’t want to block our international visitors from experiencing our great outdoors, but at the same time we need to ensure that New Zealanders can get reasonable access to our iconic experiences.
“We encourage DOC to further develop the Kiwi Share concept and look at introducing it on a trial basis for the coming summer.”
Figures from the Department of Conservation show that in the year ending March 2018, 52% of all international visitors, 1.75 million people, visited a national park. This was an increase of 5% on the previous year’s figures.
In 2016/17, the nine Great Walks were walked by 49,000 New Zealanders and 78,000 international visitors.