An Attempt to Reduce Travel Distance by Regionalising Self-drive Tourists? Itineraries in New Zealand
S Becken, Landcare Research, NZ
Increasing greenhouse gas emissions from tourism transport in New Zealand are a growing concern. This research tested the option of reducing emissions by changing tourist behaviour and encouraging tourists to travel shorter distances.
In New Zealand, free and independent travellers (FIT) in the form of ?rental car tourists? and ?campervan tourists? respectively make up 16% and 10% of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by international tourists. Against the background of sustainable transport in general and New Zealand?s greenhouse gas reduction targets through the Kyoto Protocol in particular, these FIT tourists are important foci for reducing energy use and emissions. At present, tourists ? by following the main tourist paths and visiting the main tourist icons ? travel substantial distances while on holiday in New Zealand (about 2000 km on average for rental car tourists and 3000 km for campervan tourists). One option to reduce emissions is to encourage tourists to travel shorter distances, for example by travelling more regionally rather than nationally. This research tested whether self-drive tourists? planning and decision making could be influenced towards shorter travel itineraries. Semi-structured interviews (n = 96) were conducted as part of a quasi-experimental approach, in which tourists were ?treated? by receiving a purpose-designed tourist map. This map showed alternative touring routes, and regional and local attractions ?off the beaten track?. Recommended travel times were also provided. While the tourist map did not influence tourists? itineraries greatly, interesting information on tourists? travel behaviour could be obtained from this research. Tourists to New Zealand clearly expect a ?driving holiday? and they consistently follow a ?travel budget? of about 3?5 hours driving per day. They display little interest in pausing their travel to stay within a region for longer than one or two nights. This research indicates that in the present set-up of New Zealand tourism little, if any, change towards shorter travel itineraries can be expected. More concerted action from national and regional marketing agencies, tour operators and other members of the industry would be required to modify the well-established touring itineraries and to convey a new concept of slower travel and smaller ?travel budgets? that could increase tourist experiences and satisfaction.
Association for European Transport