02 July 2008

New Zealand's record tourism expenditure result of "pristine environment"

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New Zealand's tourism is drawing record amounts of income for the country, according to the Tourism Satellite Account: 2007 published by Statistics New Zealand. In the year to March 2007, New Zealand's tourism expenditure was up nearly five per cent to $20 billion, and Tourism Minister Damien O'Connor says sustainable approaches are playing a major part.

The number of international visitors has climbed 2.8 per cent to 2.5 million, reports the International Herald Tribune, which is a complete turnaround from the decrease of 0.4 per cent in 2006.  The Minister said protection of New Zealand's pristine environment can sustain these record numbers of visitors on New Zealand visas

He also commented that sustainable approaches in tourism will benefit New Zealand in more ways than one; in 2007, employment in the tourism sector rose by 1.9 percent, allowing 108,000 New Zealanders or foreign nationals on a New Zealand working visa to work full-time in the industry.  The figures also show holidaymakers in New Zealand generated $1.5 billion in Goods and Services Tax in the same year.  If tourism in New Zealand can maintain its high standards and the high volume of visitors, then jobs will continue to open up and tax revenue will generate at much higher levels.

Mr O'Connor said in a statement last week the New Zealand tourism sector is excelling because of its commitment to the natural environment and implementation of sustainable business practices.  "To deliver on our 100% Pure image we need to take credible and visible steps to reduce our environmental impact and improve our environmental management, as well as ensuring we are economically, socially, and culturally sustainable," he said.

"The New Zealand Tourism Strategy seeks to create a sustainable tourism industry that delivers maximum benefit to New Zealand.  It requires action from both the government and the private sector, including individual operators, to ensure that it is implemented successfully," Mr O'Connor added. 

Results from research conducted by an international travel company were released last week, which showed young travellers are now more "travel conscious" and are choosing the greener options.  The Sydney Morning Herald reported on the research, which found that backpackers in New Zealand and Australia are aware of the impact their travelling may have on local environments and economies, and prefer to use companies who include sustainable practices into their business structure.

Anyone interested in travelling to New Zealand can find out more about New Zealand visas and immigration on Visa Bureau's website. 

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