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New Zealand gov’t vows to crack down on defecating backpackers

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A campervan owner sets up a camping table. New Zealand tourism minister Stuart Nash said he planned to ban travellers from hiring campervans that do not have toilet facilities. AFP

New Zealand gov’t vows to crack down on defecating backpackers

The New Zealand government promised on November 18 to take action against backpackers relieving themselves at natural beauty spots as part of post-coronavirus tourism plans.

Kiwis have long complained about so-called “freedom campers” who travel the country in campervans that do not have toilet facilities and leave human waste by the side of the road.

Tourism minister Stuart Nash said the practice did not fit New Zealand’s “100 per cent pure” image and that international visitors could expect changes when borders eventually reopen.

“They need to buy into our sustainability brand and what we stand for as a country – defecating on the side of the road and waterways is not who we are as a nation,” he told reporters.

Nash said he planned to ban travellers from hiring campervans that were not self-contained as part of a tourism industry reset when the Covid-19 pandemic eases.

“My ambition is that once global borders open, New Zealand is considered by the world’s most discerning travellers as one of the top three places in the world to visit,” he said.

Before the pandemic, tourism was one of New Zealand’s biggest money-spinners, with about four million annual international visitors contributing NZ$16.2 billion (US$11.2 billion) to the economy.

Nash suggested that visitors in future should follow his own example before setting out to explore New Zealand’s rugged natural wonders.

“I always go before I leave home,” he said.

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