“New Zealand’s natural scenery and landscapes are the main reason international visitors come here. Our national parks and reserves are also important to domestic tourism and form the basis of thousands of tourism businesses,” TIA Chief Executive Tim Cossar said in a statement. “Taking a long-term view, it may be that tourism is a more valuable and sustainable industry to New Zealand’s economy than mining. This is something we’ll be wanting to talk to Government about if this idea proceeds,” he said.

“New Zealand is internationally recognized for the leadership it has shown in managing one-third of the country as conservation estate. Our 100 Percent Pure international brand is based on our intrinsic commitment to our unspoiled landscapes,” he added.

The Tourism Industry Election Manifesto, released in the run-up to last year’s General Election, highlighted that improving New Zealand’s environmental performance was a priority for the tourism industry.

“We must protect and enhance our environment, so it can continue to be enjoyed by future generations of New Zealanders and future visitors. This is not optional – it is a necessity if tourism is going to continue to be one of New Zealand’s biggest export industries,” Cossar said.