The Chatam Islands are crumbling under the influx of tourists

The flag of New Zealand – Rafael Ben-Ari / Cham / NEWSCOM / SIPA

The Chatam Islands, a New Zealand archipelago located more than 700 km from the country’s two main islands, is currently overwhelmed by the influx of tourists, says CNN. The situation is rare enough to be reported in the midst of the global Covid-19 pandemic. Many countries have in fact adopted travel restrictions or even containment measures preventing their populations from traveling.

The local government has been one of the most effective in the world in its fight against the spread of the coronavirus, the news channel reports. In particular, it closed its borders to foreign visitors and recommended that New Zealanders not leave the country. But in the middle of the southern summer, they crave vacation and escape.

A tax of 21 euros per tourist

Used to promoting the tourist assets of its territory to travelers from all over the world, the national tourism agency has had to change its policy. She highlighted stays in the interior of the country and the Chatam Islands have become a very popular destination. The archipelago has thus had to face a demand which it has difficulty in meeting.

Each year, the approximately 700 residents of the island see around 2,000 tourists pass by, mainly during the summer, between November and March. On site, camping is prohibited and hotels, guesthouses and rental accommodation only offer around 150 beds. Reservations have multiplied and all of these establishments are now full until June 2021.

“It happened quite quickly,” says Jackie Gurden, tourism manager on the island. The inhabitants of the archipelago fear that this influx of visitors will disturb the ecosystem and the tranquility of the place. The organizers of stays will therefore have to pay a tax equivalent to 21 euros per tourist arriving in the Chatam archipelago. The money collected will finance projects that improve the daily lives of residents.

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