LeviathanMay 6, 2020
To Tourist or Not To Tourist?
Wellington’s lucky in this respect I guess: although we have many tourists (usually), we have a few other strings to our bow, so to speak. We have a University or two, or three, we have a major regional hospital, we have a flourishing port that will probably survive the loss of cruise ships, we have (or had) several musical / concert / opera venues / theatres (but no Convention Centre !) and so we will survive. Oh yes – and we have a parliament that is also based here, and employs about half the city’s workers. So maybe we will be OK without too many tourists.
Not so other cities though. Queenstown is the one that has really been in the news lately. This little gif that I made late last year shows the problem quite well really – how prescient of me. I was sitting there enjoying the hospitality, noting how few kiwis were there – the owner of the bar was French, the bar staff that served me were Spanish, and the tourists flocking by in huge clumps were all seemingly either Chinese or Indian. That was in November – so probably not the snow crowd that would normally flock there in June-September, who I guess might be more of an Aussie crowd? I dunno. But it seemed obvious to me even back then that the tourism of Queenstown had turned what was formerly a lovely wee town into a bit of an ugly mess.
Napier is another one that will feel the pain quite hard. The huge success of the Art Deco Trust in bringing the small town to the world’s attention means that it gets as many cruise liners as Wellington each year, and makes it a much more pleasant event for the passengers that arrive there. Instead of bussing the tourists into town past a million logs like we do in Wellington, Napier greets the cruise liners with a series of Art Deco era cars that congregate down at the port, and they are orchestrated by a local imp playing the part of Bertie, a jolly Woosteresque figure in a tiny 1930s baby Austin. What ho chaps! The loss of the tourism industry will hit the Hawkes Bay quite hard I think… if only for a few weeks of peak summer I guess.
So… ..in the mean time we all, collectively, are going to have to have a couple of years without the added input of tourists. How do we do that? How do we make the city work with less tourists as it has when overloaded with fat waddling Americans?