Call for govt support for sustainable tourism

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Sustainable tourism can benefit Wanaka, but support is needed from the Government, Tourism Industry Aotearoa sustainability advocate Megan Williams, of Wanaka, says.
Ms Williams said discussions on sustainable tourism during the recent One Summit week showed there was ‘‘energy and enthusiasm’’ for a more sustainable future from both business owners and community stakeholders.
‘‘Broadly, across society, there is a groundswell of action towards sustainability.’’
But there were challenges for Wanaka with both resident and visitor populations growing quickly.
‘‘This has put pressure on infrastructure and our environment, including roads, parking, public spaces, waterways and our one supermarket.’’
There were concerns as to how the growth should be managed.
‘‘This is a discussion that the wider community needs to have and is linked with many issues in the district such as affordability, quality of life, housing for staff, and how we pay for infrastructure.’’
‘‘The key is long-term planning underpinned by sustainability, driven by the community’s vision for their place and supported by action.
‘‘This is challenging but the master planning for the town centre is well under way and the conversation is beginning on the future of our airport.’’
Support from the Government was needed on issues such as data generation and distribution, immigration settings, education and training, the management of public conservation land, and infrastructure needs — both nationally and locally, Ms Williams said.
‘‘Central Government’s role is to plan strategically and take action to enable sustainable tourism.’’
Local businesses were making great contributions to sustainable tourism, including tree and riparian planting programmes and reducing landfill waste.
‘‘For instance, many cafes are happy to wash and serve in visitors’ reusable cups.’’
Tourism was the backbone of the local economy with most families playing a part in the industry. Businesses would continue to work alongside other members of the community to find solutions to the challenges of managing growth in both the visitor and resident populations, Ms Williams said.