This paper considers the research question - what are the prospects for sustainable tourism and recreation in the National Parks of New Zealand, given the recent shifts in regulation and governance to facilitate a Conservation Economy? A number of sub-questions are also addressed:
- What is the legal-institutional space available to the Department of Conservation to influence the sustainable development of tourism and recreation in National Parks?
- How do the current National Park Management Plans and visitor planning framework guide the approval, management and monitoring of tourism concessions? What changes in these relationships can we see, or expect, following a shift to a Conservation Economy?
- How does the new concession regime look like, since 2009?
- Do the existing and new concession contracts deliver on the promise made by the neo-liberal decision-makers - that opening up conservation lands for tourism businesses will deliver biodiversity and environmental gains in National Parks?
The paper concludes with some policy recommendations based on the preliminary findings reported here.