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Next Government needs to get serious about tourism

The next Government needs to get serious about tourism to boost the economy

1 July 2008

A commitment to growing New Zealand’s tourism industry will be a cornerstone of success or failure of the next Government.

That’s the view of the Tourism Industry Association after the release of the Tourism Satellite Account: 2007, published by Statistics New Zealand yesterday.

The document shows tourism expenditure reached $20.1 billion for the year ended March 2007, an increase of 4.7% (it was $18.6b for the previous 12 months).

“With the election only months away, we are calling upon New Zealand’s incoming Government to take tourism more seriously and prioritise investment in tourism as New Zealand’s top export earner,” says TIA Acting Chief Executive Oscar Nathan.

Tourism still earns more foreign exchange than the dairy industry (18.3% of export earnings versus dairy at 15.2%), even with the recent boom in dairy export prices.

“The New Zealand Government receives nearly half a billion dollars in revenue via taxes from tourism every year. With a Government investment of about $72 million in international tourism marketing annually, that’s a return of 500%.

“Imagine what that return could be if tourism’s untapped potential was given the higher priority it deserves on New Zealand’s economic and political agenda,” Mr Nathan says.

“New Zealand is competing for visitors in a global marketplace where there is intense competition for the tourism dollar, especially from emerging markets such as those in Eastern Europe, South America and Asia.

“New Zealand needs more investment in infrastructure, recycling and waste management, cruise ship facilities, a national convention centre and international and domestic marketing to compete as a quality destination, Mr Nathan said.

The recent slowdown in the New Zealand economy makes this investment even more important.

“In the year to March 2007 (the same period covered by the Tourism Satellite Accounts), international visitor arrivals grew 3%. But in the last 12 months, visitor growth has been only 1%, so the growth in visitor expenditure will also have slowed,” Mr Nathan said.

“Therefore, it is more important than ever that any Government rapidly increases its commitment to tourism infrastructure and promotion on the global stage.”

Other key statistics released yesterday:

 Tourism spend in New Zealand increased 4.7 percent ($896 million) compared to the previous year.

 International tourism contributed $8.8 billion (or 18.3%) to total New Zealand exports – up from $8.3b but the percentage of exports is down from 19.2%

 Domestic tourism expenditure was $11.3 billion (up from $10.3b)

 Tourism generated a direct contribution to GDP of $7.9 billion, or 5.1% of GDP.

 The indirect value added of industries supporting tourism generated an additional $6.2 billion to tourism.

 The tourism industry directly employed 108,100 full-time equivalent employees (or 5.8% of total employment in New Zealand), an increase of 1.9% from the previous year.

 Tourists generated $1.5 billion in goods and services tax (GST) revenue.

 Tourism directly employs 108,100 full-time equivalent employees (or 5.8% of total employment in New Zealand), an increase of 1.9% from the previous year.


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