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Tourism Industry: "Mayors Barking Up Wrong Tree"

The call by various mayors, led by Wellington's Mark Blumsky, for more money for Tourism New Zealand is worth debating, but wanting future funding to be indexed to the annual GST returns from international tourists, is barking up the wrong tree, Tourism Industry Association Chief Executive Glenys Coughlan said today.

"It is quite correct that tourism makes an extraordinary contribution to the Government's GST take - close to $500 per annum - because it is an export earner that is not zero rated for GST. However successive Government's have been, and continue to be, highly unlikely to entertain what is effectively a tied or indexed tax, as a way of increasing funding for tourism marketing.

"On this basis, the industry should be working together with central and local Government to look at funding solutions." Ms Coughlan pointed out that the New Zealand Tourism Strategy, a joint Government-Industry exercise currently underway, will be considering resource requirements for the industry. "The Strategy needs to acknowledge the dramatic slide in purchasing power of the New Zealand dollar in international markets, where Tourism New Zealand and the industry buy advertising space to encourage travellers to visit New Zealand." ?.

"The Strategy will also be looking at funding for other critical areas such as Research and Development, quality standard programmes and so on."

Ms Coughlan said that the campaign being run by the mayors was a welcome sign that local government was interested in tourism promotion and saw the benefits that tourism brings to all the regions of New Zealand.

"Local government may wish to consider increasing their own spending on tourism promotion for their regions, to complement the overseas marketing done by Tourism New Zealand and the industry. Regional tourism marketing funding is an important part of the mix, and we would welcome an indication from local government that they will be willing to put more money into tourism.

"At present, some Local Authorities are not paying their fair share, and Regional Tourism Organisations operate from year to year with ongoing uncertainty about their funding base.

"The mayors are well motivated and we support any reasonable calls for more money for tourism development and marketing. However, it is important to demonstrate that we are currently making the best use of funds we do have and that everyone - the industry, local government and central government - are paying their fair shares," Ms Coughlan said.

ENDS

The Tourism Industry Association represents 3,500 businesses and organisations within the tourism industry Members include airlines, airport companies, and regional tourism organisations, rental car, coach and taxi companies, inbound tour operators, travel agents, adventure tourism operators, accommodation providers, tourism attractions, researchers, training organisations and tourism services providers Tourism is New Zealand's largest export earner - accounting for 16 % of this country's export earnings The Tourism Industry Association organises the New Zealand Tourism Conference, TRENZ and the New Zealand Tourism Awards

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