This article is a report from a recent Eco-tourism New Zealand conference near Greymouth.
New Zealand's eco-tourism industry is trying to establish its green credentials internationally but the effort is being put at risk by the aerial distribution of 1080 poison, an industry pioneer has warned.
The Eco-tourism New Zealand conference near Greymouth has been told that internationally recognised national credentials such as Qualmark Green, announced in May, are helping attract international tourists.
However, Kea Heritage Tours managing director Matt Lysaght says that is being damaged by the controversial use of 1080, which threatens New Zealand's clean-and-green reputation in key markets.
"I think it's time to call for a moratorium on the aerial spread of 1080," he said.
"At the end of the day, if word (of aerial 1080 distribution) becomes common talk amongst our clients in North America and Europe ... I think my concession would be worth next to nothing if I don't get any visitors."
Lysaght, who sits on Te Tai Poutini Polytechnic's eco-tourism programme advisory board, also called on the Department of Conservation (DOC) to prosecute tourism operators who worked in the conservation estate without a concession.
West Coast MP and Tourism Minister Damien O'Connor said eco-tourism was at the forefront of the $20 billion tourism industry, New Zealand's biggest export earner. "You could say eco-tourism is New Zealand tourism," he said.
"If we're going to protect 100 per cent Pure New Zealand, then eco-tourism is the only apparent option for each and every tourism operator.
"If each and every tourism operator doesn't embrace these values, then we won't deliver 100 per cent Pure New Zealand."