Where is the true value in tourism?

Photo credit: Bare Kiwi

A nice piece of information on tourism in New Zealand, from a tourism workers perspective. What an exciting opportunity we have to explore our own beautiful country. We should all be proud of our world class tourism providers and now is a great time to use them, you might even discover somewhere new.

Right now I want to talk to you all as Kyle the sea kayak guide for Abel Tasman Kayaks, not as Kyle the guy behind Bare Kiwi. Tourism has always been my bread and butter, and I’ve lived my best life working proudly in this industry since 2001. But since COVID-19 struck New Zealand, tourism like so many other industries, came to a grinding halt with a scary and uncertain future.

In the last few weeks so many of my mates have lost their jobs or are currently in fear of losing their jobs or entire businesses and it’s simply breaking my heart. It feels like, if I say I work in tourism, there’s a sense of tragedy and a sealed fate in the air. But there’s also a sense of disdain from those outside the industry, like we’ve done something wrong showing the world our incredible backyard… What truly breaks my heart the most however, is the lack of value for my job I feel when I hear fellow kiwis talking negatively about tourism in our country; comments about the ‘cost of’ and not the ‘value of’ travelling our own country. True, it’s not always cheap, and traveling has always been a luxury, but you pay for what you get, and come on, what you get here in Aotearoa/ NZ is so good! Am I wrong?

That’s exactly why so many people travel from all over the world to experience NZ. The value our visitors saw in NZ was so big that New Zealand has long been known as the home of adventure tourism, cultural tourism and ecotourism. Now we are the lucky ones who get to experience our industry and our country all by ourselves. We get to experience the activities, explore the places and enjoy the accommodations without the masses; let’s take this is as an opportunity and run with it!

I understand everyone is hurting and we’re all on a tight budget now, but this has always been a “locals” approach to tourism in any country. It’s easier to justify dining out or going on a guided trip when you’re overseas and in “vacation mentality”, but when it’s your own backyard it feels unrequited because you know your own backyard - or at least you assume you know your backyard… This is where I’m going to stand up for myself here, as a guide, and proudly say there is value in what I offer for my service, my skills and my time.

I’m proud of being a guide, so give me value, give my friends all around NZ value. Please value and support your locals. New Zealand boasts some of the highest and strictest standards for guides in the world! We should all be proud of our world class tourism providers and maybe try taking a visit to your backyard with a guide. You might learn something new, be shown a pretty cool secret, or just make a new lifelong friend.

Now, one last thing I want to ask you all - as Kyle @barekiwi, what can I do to help educate locals on the value of our tourism operators? I’m open to suggestions! What can I offer you all moving forward? And if you’ve done a tour, or there’s a tourism business that you support or want to help support, please tag them in the comments and share some love.

Many thanks to Kyle from Bare Kiwi for sharing.

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