Should Tourism Operators Pay for the Right to Visit Iconic Locations?

A complex and ongoing issue has been going on in the Bay of Islands for many years, but now a Maori Trust has decided to launch a public awareness and protest campaign over their battle with tourism operators who sell boat trips to pass though their privately owned “The Hole in the Rock” (Motukokako).

THe Hole in the RockEssentially the Trust believes that any monetary gain by tourism operators who take their boats through the Hole in the Rock should be shared with the owners of the island, similar to how DoC concessions work for various sites throughout New Zealand. However the principal operators involved stand behind a legal ruling siting maritime law that vessels have navigation rights in seaways and also raise concerns on setting a “risky precedent”.

[box]For more background on this issue see this Northern Advocate article “Money, mana row over Hole in the Rock”[/box]

Undoubtedly this is a difficult issue to resolve amongst the parties involved and there’s not necessarily a right or wrong – ideally a mutually beneficial agreement would be obtained, but it seems none of the parties are budging on their views. Opinions will surely be divided, is there a good solution possible that’s a win-win situation?

It would be interesting to get your opinion on this matter, and whether similar issues have occurred elsewhere in New Zealand with a good outcome?

8 thoughts on “Should Tourism Operators Pay for the Right to Visit Iconic Locations?

  1. Don’t mind paying to visit these types of sites (not that we tour to BOI).
    However, should a charge be implemented, this needs to be across ALL operators and policed to make it so.
    Not like the appalling fiasco that is (and has been) going on with the Auckland Council re tour operators being required [[by Law]] to visit Auckland Parks and Reserves. The whole system is in a disgusting state, with many tour operators still (after years of slipping through the hoops) avoiding;
    -a registration fee,
    -submit “Proof of Indemnity Insurance” to the value of $1m,
    -submit a H&S plan,
    -fill out a Quarterly numbers document
    -and pay a Quarterly per person fee.
    Certainly not fair for we honest operators, and it’s time something was done about it.

  2. I see no reason why the tourism operators should not pay a levy to sail through the hole in the rock. They are a commercial company making a profit from someone else’s property. Since individual property rights are sacrosanct under our capitalist system and since Maori have been co-opted into that system (historically against their own traditions) as a way of alienating them from their land, I think it is only right and appropriate that they be compensated for the use of their taonga.

  3. An interesting situation, and I would have to say on the whole my sympathies are with the Maori owners.

    DoC Concessions would immediately spring to mind as a precedent. The Court decision regarding freedom of navigation is also interesting, but I wonder if they actually got it wrong.

    Although rivers rather than an open ended cave, locally the boundary of navigational sea for both the Freshwater & Rakeahua rivers on Stewart Island is are deemed to be the respective river mouths, both by DoC as the adjacent landowner and Environment Southland as the regional authority. I would have thought that drawing a line across the cave entrances would be a similar situation.

    However the appropriate payment that could be expected might be a little more contentious. My concession fee as DoC Water Taxi Concession holder for Freshwater river was assessed on the % time spent on the river as against the total duration of the round trip from Golden Bay.

    Were the Maori owners to anchor a vessel within the Cave that might well get everyone’s attention.

    And on the subject of DoC Concession Fees I have long thought the flat fee situation currently in vogue would be far fairer if assessed as a % of the tariff the concession holders client is actually charged for the time spent on DoC estate. This then makes the DoC /Concessionair relationship much more of a shared partnership/joint venture, and also allows much more certainty for the Concession holder in setting tariffs for the two years out that many agents require.

  4. i think this issue not in your country only. this kind of issues is all over the world. so the best option is leaving it to the government in the state which is belongs. anyway nice article and good to read this kind of social awareness issues. thanks for sharing this one.

  5. Of course operators should .. its part of a business expense that would be passed onto tourists .. and worldwide, as part of eco-tourism people say they’re prepared ( and do) pay more for $$$ to return to the local community.

    I’m writing an e-book on eco-tourism right now so this is topical for me.

  6. For my point of view every tourism operator should pay money for visiting the iconic location. that will ensure the capital growth of the nation as well as people wealth in the country.

  7. I think that operators in general should pay some kind of fee to take advantage of these resources. Only by getting some return may the whole travel system be somehow sustainable. Be ware of unacceptable behaviours like the recents happenings in Macchu Pichu…that ‘s the dark side or, at least the ridiculous side of tourism.
    Great post!
    David Mora

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