By GUY WILLIAMS
New tourism minister Stuart Nash says a ban on hiring vans without loos ‘‘won’t make any difference’’ to visitor numbers to Queenstown when international travel resumes.
Nash, who met Queenstown mayor Jim Boult and tourism business owners in the resort on Wednesday, made another bold claim to journalists: he’s ever done poos on the side of the road.
‘‘I always go before I leave home.’’
Waving his arm at the scenery from a City Hall balcony, he said the resort looks like ‘‘paradise’’ to people in lockdown overseas, and wants taxpayer-funded marketing campaigns to target ‘‘ultra-premium’’ tourists.
‘‘I think as Kiwis we undervalue the offering that we have.
‘‘I’m not saying we’re going to asset-test everyone who wants to buy a ticket to New Zealand, but if we’re spending taxpayer money marketing NZ to overseas demographics, that spend should be targeted at the high-end tourist.’’
He’ll welcome anyone who hires a campervan they can dispose of their own waste in, but ‘‘defecating on the side of our roads and in our waterways is not who we are as a nation’’.
‘‘They just need to know that when you come to NZ, there’re some rules you need to abide by, they need to buy into our sustainability brand and what we stand for as a country.’’
Asked why his government didn’t impose such a ban during the height of the country’s tourism boom three years ago, Nash said ‘‘I can’t tell you why it’s taken so long’’.
‘‘But I’m the new minister and I’ve said to my officials this is a high priority to start with.’’
He’s instructed officials at the business ministry to start drafting the legislation.
Boult sounded a note of caution, however, saying while the resort has tended to target high-end visitors anyway, ‘‘let’s not ignore the backpackers’’.
‘‘Today’s backpacker can come back as tomorrow’s high-end tourist.’’
But he does expect international air travel to be more expensive post-Covid, ‘‘so maybe we’ll get that nirvana we’ve always wanted’’.
Nash says Boult raised the resort’s worker shortage problem with him.
‘‘I’m going to go back and have a talk with the Minister of Immigration, the Minister of Finance and other Cabinet colleagues and outline a solution that I think, in the short-term anyway, may alleviate a couple of problems that Queenstown has.’’