Anyone who has been on a backyard holiday recently will know New Zealand is already a 'premium destination'. Years of being one of the most desirable destinations for international tourists has meant that travel is not cheap.
However tourism minister Stuart Nash has said brand New Zealand needs to go more premium still.
Talking to RNZ's Morning Report the minister said the country had a "unique opportunity for a reset" and that once international tourism returns, we should be doubling down on the big spenders, and discouraging those with less generous reserves of cash from visiting Aotearoa.
It was Nash's view that New Zealand has spent too long subsidising the freedom camping holidays of international backpackers and not enough time wooing wealthy travellers.
Chasing the high-net-worth individual is nothing new, but the disdain expressed towards international backpackers, holiday workers and woofers was worrying.
Stopping short of calling them "time wasters", Nash singled out the campervan as the totemic issue on the type of tourism the ministry want to attract.
Nash says we should not be advertising to those who "pull over the side of the road and s**t in our waterways." But is this really an issue of problem tourists? Anyone who has been camping since borders closed can tell you, New Zealanders are perfectly capable of their own antisocial behaviour.
Nash's outline for tourism reset could be described not so much as 'woo the wealthy' but 'ban the van'.
That's not to begrudge those indulging in heli-skiing holidays or fly-fishing on the Tongariro. New Zealand is one of the most desirable, pristine locations in the world. Nash is right in saying that while the ultra-wealthy are sitting through a second lockdown in London, New York and Beijing – they will be looking at New Zealand as a slice of paradise.
We have the attention of the world's most wealthy individuals, and should not be selling ourselves short.
But, when borders open and we finally are able to cater to the one percent, who will be running their luxury lodges?
Even with the prospect of staffing for a Kiwi-only summer, 45 per cent of its operators have struggled to find suitable candidates. This is in part due to a short-term hospitality workforce that is locked out of the country. Since ceasing to issue working holiday visas, MBIE recently told the Herald that as few as 3000 international part-time workers will be left by the beginning of next year.
Kiwi hostels and budget operators have already felt the pinch of the Coronavirus. An appeal to the ultra wealthy will hardly help their cash flow or work shortages.
That's not to say backpackers and thrifty travellers won't continue to arrive. The appeal of Aotearoa is an easy sell, whatever your budget.
Once the travel ban lifts and floodgates open – New Zealand will have to move on from our obsession with tourists defecating on roadsides, and work on attracting a healthy mix of tourists. Not just those flush with cash.
Your views on the 'van ban'
Ban the van, but not freedom camping
"Excellent idea to ban all campervans (not just the hired ones) that do not have a current certificate of self-containment from being on the road . . . But that's not to ban freedom camping, which would be ridiculous." - MB
Spend a penny on more public roadside toilets
"Why not provide more toilets like there are none on certain roads for miles and a few added to rest areas would assist our kiwi travellers and tourists. Im sure it can be worked to be cost effective and maintained." - CE
"We have more animals pooping in our waterways than humans. For the amount of tourist we had driving around pre Covid we should have a much better public toilet network. Make it 'pay to use' and create jobs by maintaining them properly." - DJ
Focus on those 'flush with cash'
"While we are at it start charging non NZ passport holders for access to all the Publicly owned attractions and experiences. We do not need junk backpacking tourism - It is not our responsibility to fund rites of passage for non residents at the expense of our taxpayers and environment." - CTM