Tourism industry slams Government 'lack of action' on fresh waterways

The tourism industry has criticised the Government for what it says is a lack of action over New Zealand's fresh waterways.

About nine out of of every 10 tourists say they visit New Zealand because of the world-renowned scenery.

But operators say those tourists could dry up, unless the Government takes bold steps to protect freshwater.

The call has been echoed by a broad coalition which has prepared a seven-step plan it says must be urgently implemented.  

"They should be investing more and part of that investment is environmental protection for the freshwater ways - which we rely on," Tourism Export Council CEO Lesley Immink says.

The Tourism Export Council, which represents more than 1200 local operators, says the Government's 'National Freshwater Policy' announced earlier this year left many operators disappointed.

They've joined a broad coalition of advocacy groups and scientists to launch an alternative proposal.

They've also taken a shot at dairy - an industry ecologist Russell Death says has been treated lightly by the Government.

"My cynical perspective is that they are shying away from factors that might affect the dairy industry. A classic example is that they have nitrogen and phosphorus limits for lakes - but they don't for rivers," he said. 

The group also wants a stop to public funding for irrigation schemes, but the Government's rejected that idea. 

Environment Minister Nick Smith says he's confident the Government's approach won't hinder tourism and enough is being done to protect freshwater.