It is becoming evidently clear that tourism is everybody’s business, and now the New Zealand community is speaking against responsible freedom camping. This turn of events does not come lightly,…
It is becoming evidently clear that tourism is everybody’s business, and now the New Zealand community is speaking against responsible freedom camping. This turn of events does not come lightly, considering the Island has been a travel destination for many worldwide.
New Zealand is one of the sought after travel destinations. The beautiful sceneries, the exotic food choices, and of cos, the option of freedom camping for both local and foreign tourists make the location much more attractive for travel and camping.
So, why is the community speaking against freedom camping in campervans in the country? Why are businesses and locals alike speaking against the rules and regulations that allow the choice of freedom camping? And why is it that the advocated responsible freedom camping no longer seems to work for the New Zealand community?
Let’s start with the apparent reason: campervans are a threat to the environment. As it stands, the campervan industry advocates for the undesirable disposal of waste. This comes from the rubbish collected after a trip, the fuel used to travel around the two islands, and toilet waste removal.
While this does not seem like a lot, a survey conducted over summer in Kaikoura freedom camping sites oversaw 439 participants. This is a significant amount of waste to dispose of in one season from campers alone. Then there is the other issue of methods used to dispose of the rubbish.
According to the New Zealand freedom camping rules and regulations, it is clear that only designated regions are meant for freedom camping. Additionally, rubbish, recycled products, and water disposal guidelines are given to ensure that the environment is kept clean at all times.
Nevertheless, the truth is that the fine for illegal camping and waste disposal have done little to curb the effect freedom camping has had on the environment. Let’s take a look at one survey conducted by The Auckland University of Technology in KaikMura District concerning the effects of freedom camping in the region. This is what the Institute’s researchers reported:
- Visitors have high praises concerning freedom camping and the district attractions in the region
- On the other hand, close to 90 percent of the locals had concerns about freedom campers. Seventy percent believed the freedom campers negatively impacted the environment; 60 percent thought that the freedom campers were not good for the economy; 44 percent believed that the freedom camping bylaw was not enforced properly.
The difference in opinion between the locals and the foreign tourists cannot go unnoticed from these reports. The result is even more shocking in discovering that 68 percent of the survey participants were New Zealanders freedom camping in KaikMura when the data was collected.
Locals do not think freedom camping has any positive effects on them or their environment. On the contrary, most of them state that the practice is a threat to their health and quality of life. Notwithstanding the rules and regulations of freedom camping, it is common for many campers to camp in restricted locations.
Additionally, many of the campers use non-self-contained campervans – the free camping laws only allow self-contained vehicles in the sites to cater to the correct disposal of garbage. Therefore, locals have to contend with urine, wads of feces, and dirty toilet paper all over the free camping sites once the visitors leave.
The cost of managing waste is both environmentally and financially draining. Besides, freedom camping provides little incentive to the community since most, on average, a foreign tourist will spend about $181 for two nights. Is this worth the cost freedom camping and campervans have on the environment?
The local New Zealand community doesn’t seem to think so. New Zealand already gives too much of its green lands, beautiful sceneries, and sustainability and caring environmental practices to the environment so that tourists can revel in its beauty.
In return, tourists give very little back. Instead, the visitors believe they have a positive effect on the natural environment. Fifty percent think their visit helps the local businesses, tour operators, and arts and crafts. Another 74 percent said they cleaned and collected rubbish on the beaches and the campsites.
They also gave suggestions on how the camping experience can improve. But to whom will these improvements benefit? The locals don’t seem to think freedom camping in campervans sets any precedence for advantageous gains.
Moreover, the local businesses want the government and the tourism council to put better systems that will either completely restrict or better control freedom camping. The local communities are also asking for a rethink of the freedom camping policies.
And who can blame them? If less than ten percent of local businesses have any plans to explore the business opportunities presented by freedom camping, regardless of the responsibility guidelines offered, don’t you think it should be a dying tourism practice?
Many of the locals feel that freedom campers abuse their community resources. And as an essential stakeholder in tourism planning, the community has spoken: freedom camping and campervans are not a sustainable practice in its current form.
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