Georgia correspondent Daryl Weinhoff is blogging about her study abroad experience in New Zealand this summer.
The social conditions of the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand have been changing and will continue to change over the course of the next 50 years. An article in the course materials I was given prior to my trip stated, "with a land area of 23,000 square kilometers, or 8.5 percent of New Zealand's land area," the west coast is the "third largest region in New Zealand." Historically, the west coast region of New Zealand has focused on extracting and using resources such as coal, timber and gold. However, over the past 100 years, there has been an increase in farming and in the last 20 years, a substantial increase in tourism. Evidence shows that although the west coast only has a population of 35,000, there are more than 820,000 visitors per year. In time, these changes in economic activities are going to greatly change the way people live and interact with each other, especially as New Zealand continues to become more environmentally conservative.
With the increase of the tourism industry, there will be stricter regulations placed on different attractions, such as Milford Sound. Carey states that Milford Sound makes up a large part of tourism, with "more than 35 percent of all visitors to New Zealand hell-bent on traveling to Milford Sound." These tourists generate an average of $300 million a year. According to Carey, recently a lot of people, most of whom are New Zealanders, "no longer have any inclination to visit, such is their dismay at the overcrowding." When the sound is overcrowded, the lines are long and the boats are full. With a current annual increase in visitors of seven percent, in order to determine acceptable carrying capacities for visitor use limits to Milford Sound, the Department of Conservation has limited it to two cruise ships a day on the coast, considered charging high prices for primetime tours and considered capping the visitor limit to 4,000 people per day.
Despite the negative factors of an advancing economy, there are many positive impacts. Some of these positive outcomes include but are not limited to an increase in jobs, hotels, restaurants and other opportunities arising from commercialization.
Photo: Daryl Weinhoff