At a meeting with business people in Wānaka last week, Christchurch Airport project lead Rhys Boswell claimed that the plans for a new airport would bring loads more visitors to the region, and the influx of additional visitors would somehow help locals pay for the infrastructure and services which the region needs. “The level of service you enjoy in this part of the world far exceeds Oamaru, Timaru, Ashburton, but that only exists because of the visitor economy.”
Perhaps Mr Boswell and his airport executive mates should actually learn to read the room a bit better. That might start with actually engaging openly and honestly with the community? Or even looking back to 2019, our most recent peak tourism, when locals in Wānaka were screaming out about the strain on infrastructure, and their concern about overtourism?
Or perhaps he should just keep up with current news?
A government-led piece of research launched just yesterday found that although people around New Zealand think that tourism levels are “just right” for the time being, the residents of Queenstown have had enough! We wonder what would happen if they also surveyed Wānaka?
So the very plan Christchurch Airport is forging ahead with (to build an airport to allow millions more passenger movements per year into Central Otago – largely Queenstown) if fundamentally at odds with what locals actually want.
Perhaps if you are pushing a biased, build-it-at-all-costs agenda, that’s what happens? You just don’t truly listen. There’s no need to be open and transparent. After all, why rely on research or data?
Speaking of which, if you haven’t aready caught up with the group of 11 leading NZ scientists (which has now become 79 leading NZ and international scientists) who say that the airport is a very, very bad idea (for scientific reasons), you can do so here, and see the research here.
Of course, the team at Christchurch Airport has dismissed this too. After all, why would you listen to decades of scientific mahi from leading New Zealand experts or indeed leading global researchers, when you can commission your own.
Watch this space!