|dc.description.abstract||Tourism is the fastest growing sector of New Zealand's economy and accounts for more than $NZ 3.84 billion in foreign exchange. New Zealand's tourism is based predominantly on scenic attractions, wildlife and natural resources. The country has a diverse and relatively pristine marine environment and it is likely that coastal and marine tourism will become increasingly important. However, the marine species and habitats targeted by tourism need to be identified and environmental implications assessed if this growth is to be managed sustainably.
This study investigated marine tourism in New Zealand, with particular regard to the environmental issues and options. The term marine tourism was used to include all commercial operators visiting natural areas for the purpose of diving, recreational fishing, tour boating and cruises, and the viewing of seabirds and marine mammals. A mail-out questionnaire sent to all (-380) commercial operators was used to profile the industry. The major types of operation were identified and the key areas, species and habitats targeted by each. Case studies in three key marine tourism locations were used to give a more detailed examination of the industry; identifying issues being confronted in the marine tourism industry and areas needed for analysis.
New Zealand's marine tourism industry is still in its infancy; most operations are small, locally controlled businesses and have evolved within the past five years. Operations are concentrated around several key locations. Wildlife viewing is the most common activity, with more than 44% of operators noting marine mammals and 78% seabirds as their key attraction. Activity is orientated toward marine mammals in every area with resident populations. Other key activities identified are line fishing, snorkelling and diving.
The management of marine tourism is difficult because it encompasses numerous activities and is dispersed over a wide geographical area. Models developed to facilitate the planning of sustainable tourism are better suited to discrete areas. The Department of Conservation is the key conservation administrator in New Zealand and has the most direct role in the environmental management of marine tourism. Effective collaboration between the Department of Conservation and tourism agencies is needed to ensure that management decisions are guided by adequate research into environmental implications, as well as the economic and social aspects of tourism.
Limits may need to be set regulating the number of marine tourism operators and codes of practice, incorporating environmental guidelines, initiated and/ or refined to regulate standards of operation. Marine tours provide an ideal opportunity to educate tour participants. The development of educational and interpretative programmes for use in marine tourism operations is necessary. The public needs to be educated with regard to the appropriate behaviour around marine wildlife. Areas that need to be highlighted include the problem of private boat users disturbing marine mammals and the abuse of fishing regulations.||en_NZ