AUCKLAND council’s proposal this week to almost immediately deny coaches access to the summit of Mount Eden is insulting, says ITOC president Martin Horgan.
“Why discriminate against coaches?” he asks. “(Are they) just easy targets? Coaches are an environmentally effi cient and responsible mode of transport for New Zealand visitors, driven by qualifi ed professionals who respect our roads, our attractions and conservancies.”
He tells IT:”The same can’t always be said for those travelling in rented vehicles. And what causes less congestion on the summit, 40 people in one coach vs. 20 rental cars?” Mount Eden is one of the most visited attractions in New Zealand with more than 1.1 million visitors a year.Key attraction “Such visits to the summit are promoted as a key attraction in most Auckland and New Zealand itineraries. To deny visitors this brochured and advertised attraction will expose ITOs and our wholesale partners to compensation claims in countries such as Japan and the UK where strict consumer laws apply. At the very least the industry needs a period of 18-24 months to live out our brochure obligations.”
If the council is prepared to compensate RWC fans for failed RWC transportation, and is it also prepared to do the same for coach passengers who were expecting to enjoy the vista from the summit of Mt Eden? Mr Horgan asks.Naivety “To suggest the coach tour passenger demographic could trek the last 200m to the summit shows real naivety.
If this is the council’s best suggestion for coach tour passengers then this Auckland highlight will be out of the reach of many of our highest-spend visitors.” If total protection of the site were the true motivation behind the move then all vehicle transport to the summit would have been stopped, not just coaches. “Do we want our own Uluru where any visitation is frowned upon?”
Mr Horgan suggests the council should allow 18-24 months before any closure so ITOs can live out their brochure obligations.
The Inbound Tour Operators Council of NZ was founded in 1971 and celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. It represents 250 tour operators and suppliers throughout the country who package, distribute and market New Zealand tourism products and services internationally.