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Published on : Wednesday, April 19, 2017
The University of Waikatos Management School will host New Zealand’s first Tourism Monitoring Observatory, which reports to the UNWTO. The newly established observatory officially joined the UNWTO’s International Network for Sustainable Tourism (INSTO) on 11 April, after a one-year application process backed by former Prime Minister John Key, as well as Minister of Tourism Paula Bennett.
Currently, there are 18 observatories operating in China, the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Jamaica, Greece, Croatia, Morocco, Indonesia – and now New Zealand is the new entrant in the list. To quote Professor Chris Ryan of Waikato Management School, who is leading the Waikato observatory’s research programme, “Tourism is a key growth industry for New Zealand, contributing an estimated $1.28 billion tourist spending in the Waikato region alone each year.” He added, “However, it’s important that we actively manage the pressures that increasing tourist numbers can put on our natural, social and built environments. The Waikato observatory will play an important role in providing robust data for better informed planning and decision-making around tourism in New Zealand.”
The five-year research programme of the observatory will at first focus on the two small towns of Raglan and Waitomo, which attract nearly 400,000 visitors a year. Raglan is renowned for its left-hand point surf break, while Waitomo is internationally popular for its magnificent limestone glowworm caves.
The United Nations has declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. To quote Professor Ryan, “Tourism has an important role to play in seeking to achieve these sustainable development goals, as many people in New Zealand and the Waikato region have jobs that depend on wealth created by the tourism sector.”