New Zealand ask­ing tourists to take the ‘Ti­aki Prom­ise’ to clean up af­ter them­selves

Cam­paign is aimed at curb­ing lit­ter­ing amid tourism boom

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - BUSINESS - By Nick Perry

WELLING­TON, New Zealand — New Zealand has a mes­sage for the vis­i­tors drawn by its deep mossy forests, bub­bling mud pools and mag­nif­i­cent peaks: clean up af­ter your­selves.

A new cam­paign called the “Ti­aki Prom­ise” is telling ev­ery­body trav­el­ing to the coun­try to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for look­ing af­ter it. The coun­try wants vis­i­tors to pick up lit­ter and oth­er­wise take care of their sur­round­ings so that un­sightly garbage won't ruin the ex­pe­ri­ence for oth­ers.

Tourists fly­ing on na­tional car­rier Air New Zealand will see a two-minute video show­cas­ing some of the coun­try's stun­ning scenery and telling them that ev­ery­body trav­el­ing to the coun­try should look af­ter it.

“Ti­aki” is an in­dige­nous Maori word mean­ing to pro­tect or care for. Tourism in­dus­try and gov­ern­ment groups are also pro­mot­ing the cam­paign.

“New Zealand is our home. It is pre­cious. Ev­ery­one who lives and trav­els here has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to look af­ter it,” a voiceover says on the video, adding that “While trav­el­ing in New Zealand, fol­low the Ti­aki Prom­ise.”

Tourism has boomed in re­cent years. In 2016, it over­took the dairy in­dus­try as New Zealand's largest source of for­eign in­come.

Over the past year, about 3.8 mil­lion tourists vis­ited the na­tion, which has a res­i­dent pop­u­la­tion of just un­der 5 mil­lion. The largest num­bers of tourists came from Aus­tralia, China and the United States.

Stephen Eng­land-Hall, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Tourism New Zealand, said that with­out spe­cific guid­ance, tourists of­ten de­fault to do­ing what they do back home.

“In some parts of world it's com­mon to lit­ter, and peo­ple are paid to pick up the lit­ter,” he said. “If we don't say ‘don't lit­ter,’ peo­ple will. And in the peak sea­son, it can be a prob­lem.”

Some New Zealan­ders are be­com­ing re­sent­ful at the in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity of so-called “free­dom camp­ing.” That's when tourists pitch a tent or stay in a mo­torhome out­side of a des­ig­nated camp­ing area in or­der to save money. A lack of toi­lets and trash bins mean they of­ten leave a mess be­hind.

Eng­land-Hall said the new cam­paign is not specif­i­cally di­rected at free­dom campers but is send­ing a broader mes­sage. He said he hopes tourists will search in­for­ma­tion about the Ti­aki Prom­ise on­line or be in­formed at places like rental car agen­cies.

The Ti­aki Prom­ise also cov­ers things like be­ing re­spect­ful to Maori cul­ture, pre­par­ing prop­erly for hik­ing and other out­door ac­tiv­i­ties, and re­mind­ing tourists to drive on the left side of the road.

Pho­tos by Mark Baker / As­so­ci­ated Press

A tourist looks over Lake Tekapo and the South­ern Alps in New Zealand. The coun­try has launched a cam­paign against lit­ter­ing.

The Ma­jes­tic Princess an­chors in Akaroa Har­bour, New Zealand. Tourism is the na­tion’s No. 1 source of for­eign in­come.

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