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Pristine, popular... imperilled? The environmental consequences of projected tourism growth

18 December 2019

Tongariro Crossing, Andrea Schaffer, Flickr

This report addresses the environmental and cultural impacts of tourism and what ongoing business-as-usual growth could mean for the environment and the vulnerability of the tourism sector.

The Commissioner warns that increasing numbers of tourists – both domestic and international – are putting our environment under pressure and eroding the very attributes that make Aotearoa New Zealand such an attractive country to visit.

The report examines the role successive governments have played in both supporting and regulating the tourism industry and looks at how the industry – and the environmental pressures it generates – could evolve in the future.

It finds that, despite a longstanding emphasis on sustainability, the existing policy mix is unlikely to prevent a worsening of tourism’s environmental burden, and that a different approach will be needed to head off that future.

The Commissioner has decided not to make recommendations at this stage but is instead planning to gauge feedback on whether this report identifies and understands some of the key challenges, then follow up with a second report.

  • Resources

    Pristine, popular... imperilled? (PDF 2.67 MB)
    Download Request content
    FAQs – Pristine, popular... imperilled? (PDF 218 KB)
    Media release – Pristine, popular... imperilled? (PDF 160KB)
  • Consultant reports

    The environmental impacts of tourism in Aotearoa New Zealand – A spatio-temporal analysis (PDF 3 MB)
    Māori perspectives on the impacts of tourism (PDF 271KB)
    Tourism carbon footprint forecast – summary (Excel 162KB)
  • Not 100% – but four steps closer to sustainable tourism

    Read the Commissioner's follow-up report where he urges the Government to take advantage of the pandemic-related pause in international tourism to transform the sector to one with a substantially smaller environmental footprint.

    Mt Hutt Ski Field Canterbury Shellie Evans Flickr