However, Mr Lochore says the role carries with it a significant responsibility to take ‘a wider view’ of the issue.
He is one of just nine members of the group, announced by Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis, which includes leaders from local government, industry and central government agencies.
In announcing the group’s makeup, the Minister said: "The issues around freedom camping are complex and require a well-considered response.
"I expect the Working Group’s recommendations to cover practical actions we can take to support councils ahead of the 2018-19 peak season, as well as any policy or regulatory changes to the freedom camping system that might be required over the longer term.”
Pleased that the NZMCA has been given the opportunity to play a role in improving the way freedom camping is managed in New Zealand, Mr Lochore says that naturally all participants in the Working Group will have their own views on the best way forward.
“However, I believe it’s important that we all leave our own specific interests at the door so we can look at the big picture. We have a responsibility to take a wider view of the issues confronting Councils and communities so we can work together on workable solutions for the upcoming summer.”
Mr Lochore says there are three key issues to be carefully balanced by the Working Group:
- Finding solutions to better manage the freedom camping issues that have been identified;
- Ensuring that those regions which wish to reap the economic benefits of Motorhome Tourism can continue to do so; and
- Also ensuring that Kiwi families’ ability to enjoy their traditional summer holidays are not compromised.
“By and large, the areas where freedom camping is the biggest issue are those areas that have the greatest volume of tourists,” says Mr Lochore.
“So it makes no sense to me that we should continue sending tourists to those same locations and trying to fix the problem by throwing more infrastructure at it.
“Clearly, Motorhome Tourism has a role to play in regional economic development and I believe the Government should be looking at using the Tourism Infrastructure Fund (TIF) strategically alongside the Provincial Growth Fund to move this type of tourism to the regions that are going to benefit the most from an increased share of the tourism dollar.
“The Provincial Growth Fund is designed to lift productivity potential in the provinces and enhance economic development opportunities and interestingly, those off-the-beaten track regions that most need the support of such funding are also those that offer many of the best places for Kiwi families to enjoy their summer holidays.”
The other members of the Working Group are: The local government representatives, nominated by Local Government New Zealand, Rotorua District Mayor Steve Chadwick, Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult, Central Otago District Mayor Tim Cadogan, and Christchurch CityDeputy Mayor Andrew Turner, three of whom will be on the Working Group at any one time.
Along with Mr Lochore, the tourism industry and campers are represented by Chris Roberts of Tourism Industry Aotearoa, and Grant Webster of Tourism Holdings Limited.
The three government agencies most involved with freedom camping - the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), which is in charge of tourism policy; the Department of Internal Affairs, which has a role in administering the Freedom Camping Act 2011; and the Department of Conservation, whose land is covered by the Act - will also be represented on the Working Group.
The Working Group is expected to have its first meeting by 4 May, 2018 and to report to Minister Davis by no later than 31 July, 2018
(In the photo: ome members on the Working Group from top row, Mayors Steve Chadwick, Jim Boult, Tim Cadogan & Andrew Turner. Bottom row from left, Bruce Lochore, Chris Roberts and Grant Webster).