The extra Government funding for tourism infrastructure announced recently is not addressing wider issues including our vulnerability to natural hazards. Paula Bennett’s $178m tourism infrastructure package is primarily focused on toilets and carparks, and the development of two new Great Walks.
The Minister appears to be responding to freedom camper issues and while this is both necessary and important, it does not consider the serious impact of natural hazards, especially in remote areas. Resilience of infrastructure assets including design redundancy, alternatives and contingency planning, is imperative.
While increased visitor numbers for two new Great Walks would benefit the economy, this would also increase pressure on the environment and on already stretched fundamental infrastructure such as transport, solid waste and water.
What we really need is wiser infrastructure spending to not only increase capacity for increased visitor numbers but to increase resilience to natural disaster.
Experts tell us that our increasing vulnerability to natural hazards and the ensuing strain on the environment and existing infrastructure appear to be caused by climate change. They say that climate change is causing increased frequency of extremely high intensity rainfall - recently experienced in Auckland and Edgecumbe - and other extreme weather events. We have also experienced a period of increased seismic activity and the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake highlights the vulnerability of our more remote areas with critical transport routes made impassable. Separately, seismologists researching the Alpine Fault in the Southern Alps indicate that this is a very active fault zone which could rupture sometime in the next 50 years.
While it is the existing remote attractions, such as vulnerable coastal areas like the West Coast, where many tourists want to visit, before we open up new remote areas for visitors, we need to ensure there is good, safe infrastructure, plus access and plans in place in case of disasters.
This thought leadership article by Glen Hughes, Regional Manager - Southern, is intended to provide you with insights and relevant information on funding for tourism infrastructure. Our thought leadership articles on topical and specialist issues are designed to present the key points in an easy to digest and interesting manner.
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