A new report says COVID-19 is the perfect chance to reset the tourism industry.

It may seem an odd time to recommend ways to deal with tourism growth given border closures due to COVID-19, with no short to mid-term likelihood of that changing. But Associate Professor Christian Schott from the Tourism Management Group at Victoria University of Wellington says the pandemic has created a clean break in inbound travel that has provided an enormous opportunity to reset the industry.
“The timing of this report is very appropriate as the current pandemic-imposed period of less-than-usual and domestically-driven tourism gives us time to reflect, reimagine and (hopefully) redesign tourism to, and in Aotearoa/New Zealand,” Dr Schott said.
“We must not miss this opportunity, which has been accompanied by much hardship and suffering here and around the world, and that we must have a robust discussion about ‘what Kiwis want from tourism’ over the short and long term, and whether what we had prior to COVID-19 aligns with this.”
The Commissioner’s report says New Zealand should use this time to transition to a form of tourism that is less environmentally harmful – and more resilient – than how the industry has been operating, and has put forward four key recommendations.
The report recommends the introduction of a departure tax that “reflects the environmental cost of flying internationally from New Zealand”. It says this revenue should be used to support the development of low-emission aviation technology and provide financial assistance to Pacific Island nations being damaged by tourism and climate change.