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Tourism Deserves Better - Greens

27 January 2000

Tourism Deserves Better

The Green Party is urging the Government to set up a Ministry of Tourism in recognition of the importance of the industry to the economy and its potential to create jobs.

In response to tourism briefing papers released yesterday, the new Minister of Tourism Mark Burton has called for more funding for research and policy, but said he will not be promoting change for the sake of it.

"Tourism deserves better," Green Party Co-Leader and Tourism Spokesperson Rod Donald said. "It's our single largest earner of overseas funds and still offers significant potential.

"What's needed is a dedicated Ministry of Tourism which has a strategic and policy focus, instead of the current arrangement where tourism lives in the shadow of sports promotion within the Department of Internal Affairs.

Mr Donald said one of the urgent jobs for a new ministry would be looking at the impact of tourism on the environment. "It is widely agreed that our tourism industry depends on New Zealand's clean green image yet the threat tourism poses to our environment, as recognised by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, hasn't been addressed."

"The Minister should also be changing his purchase agreement with the Tourism Board which currently bars the board from promoting domestic tourism. It's ridiculous that the board is not allowed to encourage New Zealanders to see New Zealand first.

The Greens say another challenge facing the minister is to ensure that the Department of Conservation has sufficient funding to maintain and upgrade visitor facilities without impinging on its predator control and endangered species work.

"The solution may well lie in increasing government funding for visitor facilities. Run-down tracks, huts and bridges need to be upgraded in order to reduce the pressure on the tourist hot-spots, many of which are stretched beyond their capacity."

Mr Donald is seeking a meeting with the minister to discuss these issues and the Green Party vision for tourism.

Rod Donald: (04) 470 6660 or 025 507 183

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