Letter to the Editor | Tourism body questioned

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Letter to the Editor | Tourism body questioned

Lake Wanaka Tourism (LWT) has met with their compatriots Destination Queenstown, Ignite Wanaka and Queenstown’s Chamber of Commerce plus the mayor and his deputy to signal “a new era in consultation and collaboration” on tourism. The latter two are probably also members of these organisations

This is like a meeting on the challenges of smoking with the participants being Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, Pall Mall and the new owner of the [dairy].

LWT’s disconnect from the general community is frightening for the future of Wanaka.

“We want a town that can support more tourists” states Mr Morrison of LWT. Really?! This is totally opposite to the feedback I hear from the general community... From the residents and visitors not included in the discussion.

“We also need to learn from the mistakes Queenstown had made,” is another quote, yet these are the very people who supported the handing over of the Wanaka Airport to Queenstown Airport Corporation for 99 years. Despite upcoming consultation on our airport the new owners didn’t buy it to then be prevented from them making a large financial return on it.

The ‘economic benefits’ arguments will drown the social wellbeing aspect. The benefits to a few are not enough to compensate the locals, and other kiwis, who are experiencing the loss of amenity and lifestyle.

“We can’t close the gate” is also stated. However viable solutions won’t be found by the identities who are trying to make the gate bigger via Wanaka Airport and have vested interests in growth. These disciples of the Donald Trump School of Economics shall promote growth and economic benefits at the expense of our habitat and environment.

Mr Morrison states we have relatively few tourists compared to Yosemite Valley USA who have 11 million a year. That’s a very unattractive situation for a National Park and exactly what tourists are trying to avoid when they come to places like Wanaka. The benchmark on tourism and growth must be the impact on the local community, not Yosemite. Not that long ago LWT marketed Wanaka as a “Lifestyle Reserve”! That was quickly dropped as it soon became obvious their pursuit of tourism growth was destroying Wanaka’s lifestyle.

LWT is now a bad investment for the commercial ratepayers who fund it. LWT have become ineffective and irrelevant in a market swamped by the social media posts of the tourists already visiting. These ratepayers should end the LWT junkets and spend the money improving local amenities.

Council should note that these issues need much more discussion and feedback from the general community. The organisations you prefer to meet with have no mandate from the community at large. They do not own our town and its environs. They are simply member-only, partisan lobby groups.

Just because tourists see Queenstown and Wanaka as one region does not mean Wanaka residents want to be morphed into little Queenstowners. The backlash will begin and Wanaexit will emerge.

  -  Noel Williams

Lake Wanaka Tourism chair Mark Morrison responds:

It is unfortunate that your reader feels this way. I would like to invite them (and anyone else in the community) to contact me and/or James Helmore (LWT GM) personally, so we can discuss the benefits and challenges of tourism, and the role LWT undertakes to attract visitors to our region as much of this is not seen by our broader community.

Many people would not know about the recent awards and accolades LWT has received for its industry leading freedom camping activity, website, and winter campaign. Or our upcoming adoption of the Tourism Industry Sustainability Tourism Commitment (www.sustainabletourism.nz).

My contact is LWTchair@gmail.com and James’ is james@wanaka.co.nz.

Later this month LWT will be holding workshops to seek the opinions of our members and broader community stakeholder groups as part of our upcoming Strategic Planning process. This will help shape the future direction of our visitor industry to benefit of our community, environment and economy. The outcomes of these workshops will be reflected in the reset of the Lake Wanaka Tourism Strategic Plan and I would encourage all LWT members to attend the Member Workshop planned for Wednesday, May 16, from 6.00pm – 8.30pm.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

  -  Mark Morrison 

RELATED: Wanaka demands its fair share Wanaka Sun: Thursday 10 May, 2018

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