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Talking business

by Anthony Haas


Tourism advice to incoming ministers

November 04, 2008

The key message for new government ministers from the CEO of Destination Marlborough, Dominic Moran, is to take the tourism industry seriously as NZ’s largest export sector.

Briefings to incoming ministers could help government decide on the centre’s share of the investment needed for local tourism growth.

Wine Marlborough marketer Marcus Pickens says it is time to treat the tourism sector with more seriousness nationally and regionally. He says now is the ideal time to invest in our tourism sector at a regional level, and take advantage of views such as that of the UK based travel operator who ranked Marlborough as being one of the world’s top 10 wine destinations.

Mr Pickens speculates that Marlborough’s wineries and associated activities would collect a large share of tourism dollar spend in the region. Investment in regional tourism would greatly assist us in encouraging highly skilled people to work in our cellar doors, in our wineries in marketing positions and as tour operators in Marlborough he says.

Marlborough Portage Resort co-owner Dain Simpson says central government should resource local government to do sustainable and other things of national importance it wants done locally, such as recycling rubbish. Marlborough District Council lacks the funding it needs to maximize rubbish recycling. Dain Simpson calls for a fundamental review of local government financing to align functions with funding. He advocates a whole of government approach to improving tourism production and marketing.

On the campaign trail Mr Key and Labour leader Helen Clark both advocated accelerated spending on infrastructure to help manage NZ’s response to the international financial crisis. This would contribute to tourism development.

National Party Leader John Key has gone further, and confirmed that if Prime Minister he would take the ministerial tourism portfolio.

But Mr Key’s media release on tourism did not comment on whether he would increase the Tourism New Zealand budget – an investment called for by Dr Moran.

“It is premature to be commenting on tourism funding issues” a media spokesman for Mr Key told Asia Pacific Economic News.

Mr Key’s media release said there are many opportunities for New Zealand to forge ahead in tourism – “provided we take a focused co-ordinated approach to our international activities”.
“That’s why I believe there would be an obvious role for me to use the office of Prime Minister to pro-actively advance the cause of the New Zealand brand by leading our marketing activities.
“As part of that I will ensure that all our international agencies, be they Tourism New Zealand, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, all work more closely together, effectively as the external arm of “NZ Inc’.”

Dr Moran says “What is needed is a tourism task force team that has senior cabinet members in addition to the Minister of Tourism so that the industry needs are not relegated to about number 20 on the list of priorities”.

He says:
• Tourism NZ needs more funding - but carefully focused on key markets (not necessarily China but certainly our traditional performing markets)
• NZ’s environmental promises must be better delivered in simple ways e.g. recycling, litter, public toilets etc. Carbon credits don’t fix these things!
• Destination management must be supported in the regions. We must up skill our service and hospitality sectors and support local government in providing appropriate infrastructure to support tourism and community development.

Advice communicated to officials now drafting BIMs for use as soon as the new government is formed, can have an influence on policy and administration.

The CEOs of government agencies use this time of transition between Parliaments to gather judgments and information incoming ministers need to know.

Ministry of Tourism research shows there is a clear decline underway in tourism activity that is affecting New Zealand and many other countries around the world.

Dr Moran wish for new ministers to take the industry seriously as NZ’s largest export sector, rather than just using it for “feel good PR” when it suits, may prove to be advice incoming ministers want to use.

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