Sustainable Tourism in New Zealand

Sustainable tourism requires the comprehensive participation of all stakeholders in the tourism industry. The tourism industry is decidedly expansive in that it consists of many stakeholders such as government, non-governmental agencies, community, private sector and tourists among other partners. These stakeholders play an integral role in the growth and development of the tourism industry and thus its sustainability as an economic activity. Cameron, Memon, Simmons and Fairweather (2001) argue that sustainable development of the tourism industry entails satisfaction of present needs and guaranteeing gratification of future needs too (p.13). This means that the tourism industry should not overexploit natural and cultural resources in a manner that threatens their availability in the future. For instance, New Zealand’s tourism industry appears unsustainable because of poor planning and participation by various stakeholders. In this light, it suffices to conclude that the future of the tourism industry in New Zealand does not look bright; its sustainable tourism plans are poor.

Since the tourism industry contributes considerably to economic and social development in New Zealand, the government established Resource Management Act as a body, which ensures that proper legislation regarding sustainable tourism planning is in place. According to Hollings (2004), Resource Management Act provides legal structures that aid government and councils in planning tourism that is environmentally, socially, culturally, and economically sustainable (p.3). Despite the conception that the availability of the Resource Management Act in New Zealand guarantees the sustainability of the tourism industry, both local and national governments have failed to implement various policies to ensure vibrancy in the industry. Acott, Trobe, and Howard (1998) assert that sustainable tourism requires the participation of all stakeholders and the full implementation of essential policies (p.243). In the case of New Zealand, the government failed to formulate and implement policies that effectively enhance Resource Management Act, and this laxity made the future of the tourism industry unpromising.

A study carried out to establish how councils plan their tourism activities showed that, about two-thirds of planning managers lacked defined policies of enhancing the sustainability of tourism while some resisted legislation in the Resources Management Act. Poor adoption of the Resource Management Act and lack of policies at the council level are hampering sustainable planning of tourism in New Zealand. Adams (2008) argues that the implementation of policies according to Resource Management Act promotes the sustainable development of the tourism industry (p.23). Thus, unless councils formulate and implement policies in line with Resource Management Act, New Zealand will not achieve sustainable development in the tourism industry. Each council needs to have its unique policies that guide the participation of various stakeholders in the tourism industry. Burton (1998) argues that policies are particularly beneficial as they define the roles of stakeholders and avoid duplication of responsibilities (p.121). However, New Zealand councils have deficient policies meaning that the tourism industry is dwindling due to unsustainable planning.

Moreover, the government has delegated the responsibility of tourism development to councils, yet they do not have the ability and capacity to mobilize essential resources. Chan (2009) argues that the tourism industry can stimulate the economic growth of a nation if government take a noble responsibility in ensuring that it has proper legislation and funds (p.12). Nonetheless, the New Zealand government has abandoned the tourism industry to local and regional governments. Moreover, the government has also understaffed and underfunded the Tourism Policy Group, a body that oversees the development and implementation of policies at regional and local levels. Therefore, the government’s failure to implement the Resource Management Act and insufficient policies of councils and funds to run the tourism industry are some of the key issues that affect sustainable planning of tourism in New Zealand and thus threaten its sustainability.


Acott, T., Trobe, H., & Howard, S. (1998). An Evaluation of Deep Ecotourism and Shallow Ecotourism. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 6(3), 238-253.

Adams, C. (2008). Sustainable Tourism: New Zealand. Center for Sustainable Tourism, 1-31.

Burton, R. (1998). Maintaining the Quality of Ecotourism: Eco-tour Operators’ Responses to Tourism Growth. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 6(2), 117-143.

Cameron, A., Memon, A., Simmons, D., & Fairweather, J. (2001). Evolving Role of Local Government in Promoting Sustainable Tourism Development on the West Coast. Tourism Recreation Research and Education Center, 1-76.

Chan, D. (2009). Sustainable Tourism in New Zealand: The Chinese Visitors’ View. Ministry of Tourism Research, 1-28.

Hollings, C. (2004). Tourism and Resource Management Act: A Good Practice Guide. Local Government New Zealand, 1-73.

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Premium Papers. (2023, October 30). Sustainable Tourism in New Zealand. Retrieved from


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