Keywords: indigenous people, Kaikoura, Maori, marine mammals, New Zealand, whale-watching, ecotourism, sustainability
Marine ecotourism as a potential agent for sustainable development in Kaikoura, New Zealand
The terms "sustainability" and "ecotourism" have become much used in recent years, yet there have been few examinations of how they might apply in practical cases. Kaikoura, a small coastal town (population 3600) on the east coast of New Zealand's South Island, has a rapidly developing tourism industry. This industry has helped to transform the town from an economically depressed area with few opportunities for local employment into one of New Zealand's "boom towns". However, this growth has not been without costs and controversies. The development of a successful ecotourism business by local indigenous Maori has caused some resentment amongst residents, and there is evidence that the marine mammals targeted by the tourism industry are experiencing increasing pressure. As a consequence, researchers and local people recognise that sustainability is an important issue for the future of the area. This case study provides important insights into the challenges associated with the rapid growth of an ecotourism destination.