Published on nzherald.co.nz the 01.03.2022.
Since New Zealand’s tourism is not expected to recover from Covid-19 measures in the next couple of years, Rainbow Springs Nature Park – home to the national kiwi hatchery – will be closing.
Note: Already in summer 2020, the IUCN warned about covid-19 measures threatening conservation, for instance, by weakening zoological institutions. Amongst many others, New Zealand’s government ignored these warnings and continued to pursue harsh measures. The country’s zero-Covid or no-Covid strategy has failed miserably. Even the harshest measures could not stop the virus from spreading.
This political mistake will be the end of many conservation institutions. The Omicron wave has spectacularly overshadowed all that came before it. The government tries to break the resistance of many New Zealanders against the clearly ineffective measures with police violence against demonstrators. At the same time, a work-related vaccine mandate failed before the courts, and the opposition is demanding that the remaining harsh measures be reconsidered. The model of the world’s measure-hardliners can thus be deemed a failure. In Europe, most countries are celebrating so-called Freedom Days; only Austria and Germany are pursuing questionable alternative paths following New Zealand’s model.
Comment: The price New Zealand has had to pay for the ultimately ineffective strategy is high: tourism is on its knees, and when it will recover is yet a mystery. For Rainbow Springs Nature Park, international tourism was key to its success. The park, which opened back in 1931, had endured a world war, but the covid-19 crisis has been too much. This illustrates the strain that measures put on tourism, and it did not come without prior warning. It remains to be seen how long some countries continue to implement measures that are not backed by evidence, thus ruining tourism. In many of the world’s countries, tourism is the only means for conservation institutions to finance themselves.