So, it is that time of year again, when the tourist hordes escaping the northern hemisphere winter come to our shores again.
Whilst the weather might not be fully aboard in the same way it was last year – hot, fine weather throughout the traditional summer months until February (more on that later) – the tourist summer season has begun.
Not all tourists will be familiar with what New Zealanders expect of them on the roads, in public or private establishments. Obviously not all from non-English speaking nations are going to be able to speak fluent English and some will only have a rudimentary knowledge.
Be patient. The fact that they have made an effort to come this far is commendable in its own right. If they are at a site of significance and appear not to be obeying any ground rules, politely point it out to them; if they are going too slowly or driving dangerously, contact the Police bad driving number and tell them what is going on. Taking matters into ones own hands just risks aggravating the situation.
Be polite. A tourist is a visitor to our nation. They will no doubt be asked by family and friends when they get back to their country of origin how it was and what the locals were like. And those stories will get around if the audiences judge the answers to be memorable. If they say “New Zealanders are nice people, friendly and helpful”, it will help bring more tourists to our shores for the right reasons.
Be helpful. I know it is simple, but it is pretty fundamental. Tourists, love them or loathe them, remember how we treat them, just as we remember how they treat us.
The weather may or may not co-operate. If it is anything like it was earlier this year, it could be very hit and miss. We went from having a stunning hot December and January to having two tropical cyclones – Fehi and Gita – go past in three weeks. It causes enough trouble if you are a local, but for a tourist it might help determine for better or for worse how New Zealand is remembered. They will not necessarily know about the impending bad weather when going somewhere – make sure tourists know in case they are going into the back country as you just might save the taxpayer a few thousands dollars preventing an avoidable rescue off a mountain.
And remember if there are heaps of tourists coming to your favourite spot and you cannot get in, they are just coming for a holiday and because we have afforded them the opportunity by developing economic relations with their country. The vast majority of them will be just fine and will probably co-operate if you are reasonable with them. Just remember we visit some places in large numbers as well and contribute to equivalent issues such as rubbish, bad driving and so forth.
As for the infrastructure issues that we have, that is why the local government elections every three years are important. So are the opportunities to make submissions on council plans and submit evidence in person before a hearing, and if you are really determined to make something happen, stand for them when the opportunity arises.
So, to cut a long story short, be friendly and helpful to the tourists coming here. Depending on the circumstances in which you meet them, it might save you as much grief as it saves them.