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Tourism body floats DOC charges idea

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/09/2016
A Department of Conservation truck sits at a road block on the Tongariro National Park Ketetahi © Getty A Department of Conservation truck sits at a road block on the Tongariro National Park Ketetahi

The time may have come to fund the Department of Conservation by charging people for access to the great outdoors, the body representing the tourism industry says.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa is pushing for a national debate on the issue.

"This is not about stopping the 'free and unfettered access' that is enshrined in the Conservation Act, but providing the Department of Conservation with the tools to collect revenue to maintain and enhance the facilities it provides," chief executive Chris Roberts said on Thursday.

DOC already charged for the likes of huts and campsites, but a report out this week into economic development on the West Coast identified scope for more user-pays charges, Mr Roberts said.

"Many of the conservation attractions on the West Coast are free and generate no revenue to assist in their maintenance."

Mr Roberts said the report identified international experience that people were willing to pay where it led to better experiences and when it was clear the fees were being used in the local area.

"This is an idea whose time has come."

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