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Tourism Association CEO Unnecessarily Alarmist

10 June 2002

The alarmist statement issued today by the chief executive of the Tourism Industry Association on the impact of climate change policies does the association no credit, Tourism Minister Mark Burton said.

"Having directed officials from the Ministry of Tourism to enter discussions with the association on this issue, today's announcement came as something of a surprise. It is based on preliminary research data and not only misrepresents government policy, but also totally ignores the potential benefits to the entire tourism sector from New Zealand signing up to the Kyoto Protocol.

"Our tourism industry is heavily dependent on New Zealand's environmental reputation. New Zealand's tourism brand is 100% Pure, and everyone in the tourism industry must continually strive to ensure we can sustain that claim.

"Any balanced assessment of the impact of climate change policy on the tourism industry would have to consider the cost to that image if New Zealand rejected the Kyoto Protocol after a decade of support for it.

"The Ministry for the Environment has calculated that New Zealand's clean green image is worth about $530 million a year to the Tourism sector, rising to $938 million if wages and GST effects are taken into account.

"TIA has previously recognised this. To quote a February 2001 media statement from the association:

"New Zealand trades very much on our clean and green image, but we can never take this for granted. Visitors today are much more aware of the environment and are strongly motivated by green issues in tourism. Put simply, tourists are more likely to support companies, and countries, that are environmentally responsible and back up their words with actions. New Zealand has an advantage already over some other destinations we compete with, but we must not lose the momentum. There is already some evidence that in some areas we are losing the edge, and letting standards slip."

"Tourism businesses that are investing in reducing their emissions will see that investment pay off in reduced emission costs from 2008. The industry has six years to look for further efficiency and technological gains.

"There are real benefits for the tourism sector in being at the forefront of protecting and conserving our environment. The Green Globe environmental programme is proving an invaluable marketing tool. The Kyoto protocol offers similar support to both the nations and the industry's clean and green status.

"TIA's chief executive has contradicted himself, by on the one hand claiming emission charges will come out of company profits, and on the other suggesting New Zealand will be a more expensive place to visit because companies will be charging more.

"The argument that NZ will be less competitive in attracting tourists from the US and Australia cannot be sustained, given that the impact of climate change policy is minor compared with factors such as the exchange rate.

"The statement also misrepresents government policy on recycling revenue. The government has made a commitment to recycle all revenue from emissions charges. Some will be invested in industry or enterprise projects to reduce emissions - which could include the tourism industry - while the rest will be returned directly, possibly through tax cuts.

"The government's policy package also states clearly that sectors will be able to bid for funding to undertake projects to reduce carbon emissions, and any sector placed at competitive disadvantage can apply for a reduction or exemption in compliance costs.

"The government has engaged in an extensive programme of consultation over climate change policy, and I have made it a priority as Tourism Minister to work with all interests in the tourism sector in a cooperative and consultative manner. That approach has been warmly welcomed. That's why today's premature statement is so disappointing. However, I will continue to work with the board of the Tourism Industry Association to ensure that issues facing the tourism sector are thoroughly canvassed and properly addressed," Mark Burton said.

Ends

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