Sonya Bateson

Sonya is the education reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times.

Moves to stop tourists behaving badly

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Mobs of tourists are blocking footpaths, spitting, leaving their cigarette butts everywhere and taking up all the carparks with their buses - but the council is trying to fix the problem.

The Amohau St area across from the Rotorua Central Mall has had carparks taken out and replaced with tourist bus stops, while the other side of the road has had bus stops taken out and more carparks created.

Galaxy World Travel owner Joanna Corbett said tourists on the footpath alongside the bus stops blocked the footpath.

"They stand outside the Chinese restaurant, spit and drop their cigarette butts everywhere. The big thing for us is the council has allowed a restaurant of this size, which can serve up to 500 people a day ... We feel the tourists have taken precedence over the locals."

Barber Graham Geater said there were up to 52 buses dropping people off along Amohau St each lunch time.

"There are usually three meter maids there every day - that's all the rate payers' money used on somebody else's problem. The restaurant should be moved out of town where there's room to park buses."

He said customers complained, both about the parking and that they couldn't get through on the footpaths.

"None of the tourists will move out of the way. Sometimes there's up to 300 tourists standing around on the footpath."

The business owners said the council had been good at working with them to solve the problems but they were unhappy with the changes.

China Town Restaurant manager Ken Song said he was aware of the complaints about the tourists, but he hadn't been able to stop the spitting and littering.

"We tried telling our customers, but there's so many tourists groups that only stay for a couple of nights. I think the only way is to put up posters outside and ask the bus drivers to help tell the tourists the rules."

Rotorua District Council economic and regulatory services group manager Mark Rawson said he realised there were a number of issues, but as the changes had only been put in place on November 5, it was too early to say whether they were a success or failure.

"We created those bus stops along that stretch to create a safe place for people to get off and there are more of them than before to help disperse the crowds. On the other side of the road we created more carparks - in theory it would be more locals using these carparks."

He said the council had talked with almost all businesses in the area before making the changes and had accommodated many of their points into the plans.

Mr Rawson said they had brought in signage in and around the restaurants, written in Chinese, with the behavioural expectations for visitors to Rotorua, including not spitting, throwing cigarette butts in a rubbish bin and moving out of the way for pedestrians.

These messages were also to be broadcast before buses let their passengers off and visitor attractions were also encouraged to reiterate the message.

"In our view, we have done everything we can do to strike the best balance between serving the tourists and looking after local businesses."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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