New Zealand is just the latest destination begging visitors to behave. Welcome to the unpleasant side effect of mass tourism.
New Zealand has a message for the visitors drawn by its deep mossy forests, bubbling mud pools and magnificent peaks: clean up after yourselves.
A new campaign called the “Tiaki Promise” is telling everybody traveling to the country to take responsibility for looking after it. The country wants visitors to pick up litter and otherwise take care of their surroundings so that unsightly garbage won’t ruin the experience for others.
Tourists flying on national carrier Air New Zealand will see a 2-minute video showcasing some of the country’s stunning scenery and telling them that everybody traveling to the country should look after it.
“Tiaki” is an indigenous Maori word meaning to protect or care for. Tourism industry and government groups are also promoting the campaign.
“New Zealand is our home. It is precious. Everyone who lives and travels here has a responsibility to look after it,” a voiceover says on the video, adding that “While traveling in New Zealand, follow the Tiaki Promise.”
Tourism has boomed in recent years. In 2016, it overtook the dairy industry as New Zealand’s largest source of foreign income.
Over the past year, about 3.8 million tourists visited the nation, which has a resident population of just under 5 million. The largest numbers of tourists came from Australia, China and the United States.
Stephen England-Hall, the chief executive of Tourism New Zealand, said that without specific guidance, tourists often default to doing what they do back home.
“In some parts of world it’s common to litter, and people are paid to pick up the litter,” he said. “If we don’t say ‘don’t litter,’ people will. And in the peak season, it can be a problem.”
Some New Zealanders are becoming resentful at the increasing popularity of so-called “freedom camping.” That’s when tourists pitch a tent or stay in a motorhome outside of a designated camping area in order to save money. A lack of toilets and trash bins mean they often leave a mess behind.
England-Hall said the new campaign is not specifically directed at freedom campers but is sending a broader message. He said he hopes tourists will search information about the Tiaki Promise online or be informed at places like rental car agencies.
The Tiaki Promise also covers things like being respectful to Maori culture, preparing properly for hiking and other outdoor activities, and reminding tourists to drive on the left side of the road.
Photo credit: A tourist stands on a rock overlooking Lake Tekapo in New Zealand in this photo from Oct. 6. The country launched a new campaign asking tourists to clean up after themselves and take care of the destination. Mark Baker / Associated Press