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A Regional Partnership For Tourism

Meeting of Chief Executives of Regional Tourism Organisations
Shed 5, Wellington, Wednesday 15 March 2000
Address by Hon Mark Burton, Minister of Tourism



Thank you for the opportunity to address you this evening. I made my first major speech as a Minister, on Tourism, when I addressed the Destination Lake Taupo Industry Forum in January so I am pleased to keep up the local and regional flavour by addressing you here tonight.

As some of you will know, the Prime Minister has entrusted me with a broad range of ministerial portfolio responsibilities. Five areas of responsibility to be exact.

Although there are some pressing issues in my other portfolio areas, I have placed the contribution I can make as Minister of Tourism high on my list of priorities. Since taking office I have met with the Office of Tourism and Sport, with Tourism New Zealand, the Tourism Industry Association of New Zealand, various industry organisations and representatives from the wider tourism industry.

I have also travelled around New Zealand to meet with local tourist operators. I must say how much I have appreciated the assistance, information and amazing experiences given to me by members of the tourism industry – most recently in Queenstown. I am constantly struck by the enthusiasm of operators and their interest in issues of national importance.

This evening I’d like to talk to you about my own priorities as Minister and take the opportunity to focus on Government policy in relation to regional tourism.

Tourism’s economic importance for New Zealand cannot be understated. With an annual contribution of $9.1 billion, export earnings of $4.3 billion and employment for some 118,000 New Zealanders in a wide range of fields and professions – that is one job in twelve – we are talking about a dynamic and key contributor to the country’s economic well being.

Annual growth in international visitor arrivals averaged over 7.8 percent throughout the 1990s and visitor spending has increased at a faster rate – an average increase of 9.6 percent per annum. Forecasts prepared last year by McDermott Fairgray suggest we can expect this growth to continue. They suggest that we will see nearly 2.2 million overseas tourists annually by 2005.

We cannot however, measure our tourism successes by visitor numbers alone. I believe that it is important to appreciate the sector's contribution across the full spectrum of the Government’s desired objectives, namely:
 fostering opportunities for small and medium sized businesses;
 celebrating the diversity and uniqueness of our culture, in particular Maori culture;
 developing constructive and multi-dimensional engagement with the rest of the world;
 preserving and enhancing our natural environment;
 nurturing cohesive communities, and
 ensuring the health and well being of our regions.

The linking of tourism opportunities and regional development is of particular interest to RTOs - and to me. After all I am the MP for Taupo where tourism is an essential component of the regional economy –the summer holiday business, the ski fields, the trout, the Tongariro National Park, the thermal areas all contribute to a strong local economy. Taupo, like many areas of New Zealand, is highly dependent upon tourism.

Recently the Government announced the establishment of the new Ministry of Economic Development. The Ministry has been tasked to provide policy advice and direction in industry and regional development. In addition, the Government will, by mid year, have established a new Crown Entity, 'Industry New Zealand', which will deliver industry and regional development programmes in partnership with the private sector, local authorities, Maori economic entities and community groups. To assist it in this task, a funding pool of $100 million is being directed to the Government’s Economic, Industry and Regional Development portfolios.

Over the next few months as the Ministry and Industry New Zealand are developed, I will be highlighting to my colleagues the opportunities that tourism provides to regional economic activity. Tourism offers the opportunity to address many issues that are important to our regions and their communities. It is a prime vehicle for advancing the Government’s regional development agenda.

My own agenda is to pursue a number of key initiatives within the Tourism portfolio.
1. Firstly, and key to future planning, is the development of the National Tourism Strategy. For too long the industry has relied on an adhoc approach to planning, funding and management of tourism. Whilst this can have some positive outcomes – the famous "kiwi ingenuity" can be very creative in this sector - it can also sometimes result in duplication of effort or lost opportunities. I believe that an effective strategy will enable the disparate groupings of interests to work together and also ensure that Government’s investment in this area is used most effectively. I am pleased by TIA's initiative in this development because I believe this vision and strategy is best driven by those who must make it happen – the industry.

To be successful, this strategy must also have the support and involvement of the public sector including Tourism New Zealand, Government departments such as the Office of Tourism and Sport and the Department of Conservation, regional tourism organisations, local and regional councils, and the Minister.

I have pledged my support and input to this process and have stated that the Government will not run a parallel strategy process but that we will participate in the existing process as a partner. Tourism is about partnerships, and as such, we need a partnership approach to develop the vision, and guide and shape its development. We each need to focus on the contribution we can make and the value we can add – and seek to do that in partnership with everyone else.

RTOs are important to both the strategy development process and, of course, in ensuring its successful outcome. Discussions have begun with TIA to define a process for furthering the development of the strategy and RTOs will be engaged in those discussions. RTOs are ‘mission critical’ players in the tourism sector and, as a result, I am keen to ensure your enthusiastic engagement in the development of the strategy.

2. My second major priority is to ensure credible, authoritative and integrated tourism research, information and forecasting. There has been a history of poorly funded and coordinated research relating to Tourism and this has hindered the ability of all the interested groups to plan and manage the industry.

A ‘Tourism Research and Forecasting Clearinghouse’ has been proposed to increase the quality of the tourism sector’s information base.

It is not intended to set up a new entity or to duplicate anything currently existing. The Clearinghouse proposal is for a research programme driven by a collective of key information users, including the private sector and RTOs. It is proposed that it will:
 develop and pursue a tourism research strategy;
 work with existing research funders such as PGSF, Ministry of Research Science and Technology, Tourism New Zealand, Statistics New Zealand and DOC to ensure funding availability; and
 ensure that research findings are useful to the sector and accessible by the various industry interests.

Research is vital to the business of RTOs. This proposal, however it is finally configured, should enable the resources you commit to research to be tailored to meeting your more specific requirements, adding value to the core data collections such as the International Visitor Survey, Domestic Travel Survey, and Commercial Accommodation Monitor, Tourism Satellite Accounts and Tourism Forecasts.

Incidentally, on this latter point I am pleased to announce that the Government, through the Office of Tourism and Sport, is developing methodology to enable regional level breakdowns in the TSA and to provide regionally based forecasts.

I will be interested in hearing your views on the Clearinghouse proposal and whether you feel that it could meet your needs at the local and regional level. Tomorrow, Scott Morrison, Director of the Office of Tourism and Sport, will also be talking to you on this issue.

3. My third priority lies in marketing New Zealand internationally. The Government’s largest investment in the tourism sector is in Tourism New Zealand. This is because of the broader benefits that international tourism provides to NZ. I intend to take a close look at how similar organisations overseas perform their functions, with a particular focus on how the private sector can be more engaged in this work. I will also be looking at how overseas marketing activities can provide greater recognition of regional interests and involvement with RTOs.

Having said this, I fully intend to let Tourism New Zealand get on with the job. They have been tasked with an important responsibility. The best thing I can do is be clear about my expectations and assist where I can. And I expect RTOs to take responsibility to work with Tourism New Zealand to ensure that regional needs are met.

4. A priority that featured prominently in Labour's pre election campaign, is a greater focus on Domestic tourism. In our policy statements the Coalition Government has been quite clear that we intend to ensure an understanding of and focus on this important aspect of the industry. Domestic tourism issues should not displace our focus on attracting visitors from overseas, however, – we need their business! But for many tourism businesses and for many regions, the domestic tourism market is the core business. If we wish to achieve our goals of fostering development in these areas, then domestic tourism deserves, and will get, greater attention. I see this being considered as part of the overall strategy development.

I hope that one particular contribution that Government is making to domestic tourism will be particularly useful to you, that is the Domestic Tourism Survey. This project has been funded by the Public Good Science Fund and carried out by Foresyte Research. It is designed to provide us with a global picture of domestic tourism in New Zealand. This should be a useful tool for RTOs in quantifying domestic tourism and in providing a further basis for your decision making and fund raising and I further hope that the survey will become a regular contributor to our tourism information base.

5. Finally, but not least, I am committed to ensuring the involvement of Maori in the Tourism Industry. Maori culture is a key defining element of our tourism profile. We have some fine examples in the Tamaki Maori Village and the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua, and Whale Watch Kaikoura, and I am interested in seeing more developments emerge that will generate benefits for Maori and for New Zealand generally. Given the importance of Maori culture, knowledge and history to marketing New Zealand, both internationally and domestically I am pleased to have an Associate Minister of Tourism, Hon. Dover Samuels, to work alongside me on this. The Office of Tourism and Sport is working with Te Puni Kokiri to develop new initiatives and will be in contact with you to seek your input.

My defining commitment is to ensure we have a sustainable industry. That we value our people, our culture and the natural beauty of our country, that together makes it so attractive to domestic and international visitors. I am also committed to ensure that we have the capacity to build on our potential for tourism. New areas of attraction such as our wine industry, our arts and crafts, our Maori and colonial history and, of course events such as the America’s Cup all provide attractions for tourists both domestic and international. And this is how we will continue to have jobs for today and in to the future.

Finally I’d like to thank Tourism Industry Association of New Zealand for keeping me and my colleagues in Government so well informed on tourism issues since we assumed office. I have been appreciative of their assistance and look forward to further developing our working relationship, as I do with RTOs.

Again, thank you for tonight's invitation. Carol and I appreciate the opportunity to meet with you this evening.


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