A stupid petition

Stuff reports:

A woman has launched a petition to Parliament to ban all freedom camping for non-residents.

Jennifer Branje, who runs the South Island visitor guide website South Proud, said the coronavirus pandemic was a perfect time to “reassess” the industry.

She launched the petition in a bid to stop freedom camping as a support for New Zealand tourism providers. …

It asks “that the House of Representatives urges the Government to abolish all freedom camping for non-residents of New Zealand in support of local tourism providers, and to cease allocating taxpayer revenue for further development of free camping sites.”

Branje said New Zealand now had the ability to reassess how its tourism industry would reset after Covid-19.

“I believe we need value not volume. While freedom camping has previously been allowed, I believe the way forward is to abolish freedom camping for all non-residents in support of our local tourism operators,” she said. 

Ms Branje thinks that if she bans a certain type of tourism, this will benefit tourism operators.

Its a nuts argument.

If you ban freedom campers that doesn’t mean we’ll get more non freedom campers.

Also her premise is based on a bad assumption, that freedom campers spend less. MBIE found:

International visitors to New Zealand who did some freedom camping had a tendency to spend more on average. Average spend for those who did some freedom camping was $4,400 per visitor in 2017 and 2018, and although it was higher than the national average, the overall trend was similar.

One of the major reasons for a high average spend per visitor is that people who did some freedom camping tended to stay longer. The average length of stay for visitors who did some freedom camping was 46 days in 2017 and 2018, almost 3 times longer than the average of all other visitors (17 days).

So freedom campers are worth more to NZ than other tourists.

The number of international visitors who did some freedom camping in New Zealand has been rising recently, from 54,000 in the year ended 2013 to around 123,000 in the year ended 2018. This followed a period of moderate growth from around 10,000 visitors at the beginning of the 2000’s.

Total estimated spending by visitors who did some freedom camping has also increased significantly in this period, from $210 million in 2013 to $540 million in 2018.

So why would we turn down $540 million of spending?

UPDATE: The petition has been withdrawn due to a backlash, including reportedly threats to the author. That is regrettable. She has the right to call for a ban, just as we have the right to call it stupid and harmful.

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