Department of Conservation to raise charges for overseas visitors walking New Zealand’s trails
The Department of Conservation (DoC) is set to start charging tourists more than the locals for walking New Zealand's national park trails.
Speaking at this week's TRENZ tourism trade show, New Zealand Conservation Minister Maggie Barry advised that a new booking system for tracks would be brought in as part of $76 million set to be allocated to DoC in the 2017/18 Budget.
First suggested by DoC Director General earlier this year, the system will see overseas visitors pay higher charges to access national parks. DoCs has also been planning a blanket increase for hut prices along its popular Great Walks tracks, some by up to 30%.
Minister Barry explained "I think there is much more of an appetite than we might acknowledge for international visitors who are used to paying for walks, used to paying access for things, to pay a little bit more.
"And for New Zealanders, who pay rates and taxes, to get a discount on that."
Minister Barry advised that the rates had not yet been decided, but would likely be introduced in April next year.
According to Radio New Zealand, climbing and tramping groups had complained that high tourist numbers on the nine Great Walks were deterring New Zealanders from them.
It reached the point where New Zealanders made up only 25% of the people using the tracks, and there were concerns the high number of tourists not providing enough money for track maintenance and facilities.
That was especially the case as New Zealanders opted to visit secondary tracks instead, meaning more upkeep would be required for those as well.
Image: The South Island's Routeburn Track.
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