Seek the treasure you value most dearly. Should you stumble, let it be to a lofty mountain. (New Zealand Wiki)
The New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2015 was launched by Prime Minister Helen Clark in 2007. Their strategy is highlighted by two key values, kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and manaakitanga (hospitality). According to New Zealand’s Tourism website, "These values provide the foundation for a sustainable approach to the development of our tourism industry. If we embrace these values, we will achieve our vision for 2015."
A special thank you is given to Council member, Amelia McIntyre, for introducing the Pickens County Tourism Council to New Zealand’s sustainable tourism program. At previous council meetings, we reflected on how their tourism strategy could be a relevant model as we develop our tourism strategies in Pickens County.
Much like New Zealand, although be it on a much smaller scale, Pickens County’s stunning wilderness areas, magnificent mountain backdrop, and quaint rural landscapes are particularly vulnerable to increasing pressures from tourism and economic growth. While tourism and economic growth can bring dollars to Pickens County, it can put pressure on it through increased numbers of visitors travelling to and recreating in our wilderness areas, increase use of our infrastructure, increase consumption of natural resources and increase waste generation. This perhaps is a critical challenge to the wellbeing of Pickens County because of our fragile ecosystems, infrastructure and services.
New Zealand relies on a “100% pure” image to promote and attract visitors to their unique natural landscapes and outdoor activities. They believe it is in their industry’s interest to protect the environment and to ensure its viability into the future. A number of participants have actively pursued sustainable tourism practices, including establishing a Sustainable Tourism Charter.
I am a tree hugger by heart. Attracting visitors to Pickens County is our goal but let’s do it smartly. We need to be “bold and daring” in our approach to the development of tourism into the future. To quote Ms. McIntyre,
“Tourism = Attractive Environment + Hospitality.”
Our county is abundantly blessed with both. If we embrace these values, we will achieve a vision for a sustainable approach to the development of tourism in Pickens County.