Nick Smith targets tourism industry in water quality stoush

Nick Smith with Local Government New Zealand regional sector group chair Stephen Woodhead (Facebook/Nick Smith)
Nick Smith with Local Government New Zealand regional sector group chair Stephen Woodhead (Facebook/Nick Smith)

The Environment Minister has rubbished claims by the tourism industry that the Government doesn't take fresh water quality seriously.

Tourism industry bosses have labelled the Government's "wadeable" fresh water standard a "marketing disaster for New Zealand".

"Healthy freshwater ecosystems are fundamental to supporting the natural landscapes that are the primary reason visitors travel to New Zealand," says Lesley Immink, chief executive of the Tourism Export Council (TEC).

"They are also integral to many tourism activities such as rafting, jetboating, swimming and fishing."

Members of the Choose Clean Water campaign, which the TEC supports, will on Friday appear before the Local Government and Environment Select Committee to urge switching the accepted standard from "wadeable" to "swimmable" - and ideally, "drinkable".

"This must be one of New Zealand’s highest priorities for our communities, the economy and the health and wellbeing of our lakes, rivers and streams," says Ms Immink.

Environment Minister Nick Smith said the tourism industry also has to pick up their game.

"They need to do their bit as well, particularly with freedom camping," he told Newshub. "In some rural areas their own industry is contributing to the challenges."

Tourism is the second-largest export earner for New Zealand, behind dairy.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says it's about time the industry fought back.

"The Greens have been campaigning for swimmable rivers and to clean up our waterways for many years now. We're really pleased that we're getting that kind of confirmation from the industry they're thinking along similar lines."

Newshub.

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