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Tourism Industry Conference - Mark Burton Speech

Tuesday 20th August

Hon Mark Burton

Address to the Tourism Industry Conference

Once again, it is a pleasure to join you at the New Zealand Tourism Conference. I am, of course, particularly pleased to be able to address you today once more as the Minister of Tourism.

This is an opportunity to take a look back at what has been achieved but, more importantly a chance for me to share my vision for New Zealand tourism for the next 3 years.

So, just a brief look back ...

The last three years have been important and challenging. Most recently the industry faced the obvious demands of September 11 and the Air New Zealand and Ansett financial crisis, which we are all too familiar with.

When I became the Minister of Tourism, my primary goal was to help create a co-operative, constructive and stable environment. An environment where businesses could get on with their work, government could concentrate on developing a strong brand for the nation and positive and effective policy for the sector.

I think its fair to say that this has been achieved. Over the past three years, the government has invested in strengthening its key agencies, in clarifying their roles and their mandates, and providing them with the resources to carry out their jobs effectively. We are committed to building on this investment throughout our next term.

Tourism New Zealand is an effective organisation, promoting a winning brand. The global marketing campaign - 100% Pure NZ has gained the attention of the world, winning praise internationally.

Changes to Board appointment process have better involved industry and sector interests. And, Wally Stone has recently taken the helm at Tourism New Zealand to continue the good work that Peter Alport begun. Wally is widely recognised for his considerable talent and experience in the tourism industry and I am looking forward to working with him to build on the achievements to date.

The new Ministry of Tourism has replaced the previous Office of Tourism and Sport with much more capacity and capability than its predecessor. The Ministry is resourced to provide tourism policy advice, and support the sector through the provision of relevant research, information and data. The Ministry, itself a result of the recommendations of the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010, is continuing the process of responding to the challenges laid out in the recommendations. With a new General Manager, Ray Salter, who has considerable government policy experience leading the way, the Ministry is responding positively to the challenge.

The Tourism Research Council New Zealand, which I established in August 2000, is working with the sector to identify and access the research and information it needs. Chaired by Sean Murray and with the support of the Ministry of Tourism, the Tourism Research Council has compiled a comprehensive set of tourism data, presenting national and regional level tourism intelligence, linked with a future focus through the forecasting programme. Research is tailored to meet the industry’s specific requirements - adding value to the core data collections, adding value to tourism operations, and ultimately adding value to the experience of each and every visitor to our country.

Wally Stone, Ray Salter and Sean Murray are all addressing you during the course of the conference and I am sure that you will take great confidence from their presentations.

These agencies form the government’s foundation blocks for tourism in this country.

And, there are other important government responsibilities including the management of our conservation estates and natural resources, and building the capacity of our infrastructure to enable growth to be sustained and developed. The injection of a $345 million package for conservation over the next 10 years is a good example of new major investment in tourism and visitor infrastructure by central government. I’ll be working closely with my colleague Chris Carter - the new Minister of Conservation, to develop effective visitor monitoring and management regimes for protected environments.

As a government we are also committed to simplifying compliance requirements for business, enhancing skills and employability through tertiary education and training reforms, and active labour market programmes.

It is this government’s overall strategy to create an environment that allows the industry to take and build on the opportunities that a strong and sustainable tourism sector can offer.

But none of this will work without the industry taking advantage of these opportunities and running with them.

So, what are the key challenges for a responsible and vibrant tourism sector? I think the sector needs to:-

„X provide what tourists want

„X be committed to consistent and high quality service

„X understand and develop best practise

„X be competitive domestically and internationally, but equally, to be co-operative in building complementary products

„X be responsible for, and responsive to, the environment and communities of interest

„X be innovative, creative and exciting

and,

„X value and treasure our uniqueness.

My vision therefore is simple, it’s about creating and nurturing an environment that allows the industry to shape and create a future that is profitable, sustainable and valued by everyone in New Zealand.

Some think that the protection and preservation of our natural environments, and the further development of tourism products are incompatible. I disagree.

But there are some real challenges for us all to address. If we are to share the qualities that we treasure with our visitors, we have to be prepared to plan and manage tourism impacts for the long term. I want to be able to stand here in three years time and acknowledge just how well we have done

To achieve this I have a number of specific objectives that I would like to realise in the next three years.

Through the money made available for implementing the Tourism Strategy, the government has committed to investing more than $3 million over the next three years in Qualmark and VIN Incorporated. I want to ensure that the investment in these initiatives will add value to the delivery of quality at all stages of the visitor experience, which will in turn, strengthen the long-term sustainable competitiveness, of New Zealand as a destination.

It is a key priority for me to have the Ministry of Tourism monitor and disseminate information about the New Zealand Tourism Strategy, and its implementation. The strategy development was a significant milestone and achievement but it’s not enough for us all to have worked together to develop it. We now need to work together to ensure that the implementation impetus continues, so that it is a relevant and useful planning tool for all of us.

I want to see Regional Tourism Organisations continue to strengthen their work. A group of RTOs have developed, with Strategy Implementation funding, a comprehensive response to the relevant recommendations. They will be engaging with key stakeholders including the Ministry, Tourism New Zealand, and the Industry Association as well as their own local government owners, to advance their response to the strategy. I have a strong commitment to continuing support for that progress.

At this time, I’m pleased to be able to present to you further evidence of the current strength and future prospects of the industry.

Firstly, spending by international visitors in New Zealand as measured by Tourism New Zealand's International Visitor Survey continues to grow at a highly impressive rate - up by $597 million to $5.7 billion in the year to June 2002 - an 11.8% increase.

This is a tremendous performance in what has been a difficult operating environment.

As an aside, with the transfer of the IVS to the Ministry of Tourism, this will be the last release of this data by Tourism New Zealand. I would like to acknowledge the contribution of Tourism New Zealand in running the survey over the years, and I look forward to this data being integrated with the other elements of the core data set managed by the Tourism Research Council New Zealand.

The forecasts prepared by the Tourism Research Council, establish a robust set of expectations about future tourism demand. Highlights of these forecasts include:

- New Zealand will host an additional 33 million international and domestic visitor nights in 2008

- International visitor nights will increase by 56% in the period to 2008

- International visitor expenditure will increase by 9.3% per year to 2008, at which time expenditure will total $9.7 billion per year

These are important figures that have implications for all of us. In effect they issue a challenge to ensure that we can accommodate these levels of demand. The forecasts outline the opportunities ahead, but also highlight the need for action to manage the expected demand.

As I mention earlier, Sean Murray, will discuss the forecasts in more detail in his presentation this afternoon. The forecasting report is available from the Research Council's booth here at the conference, and I commend it to you as an essential resource for the tourism sector.

Finally - we are all working towards the same objective - a strong tourism sector that delivers wealth and jobs for our people, while positively contributing to those social, cultural and environmental values that make New Zealand such a special place to live in, and to visit.

The challenges presented by this large, complex industry are certainly numerous. This government has been given a new mandate and we have many things to accomplish. We will continue to work with the tourism sector, and other stakeholders, to maximise the economic benefits tourism can provide for New Zealand, while protecting and preserving the environmental, social and cultural resources and values, upon which it is based.

Thank you again for the invitation to address you all. I wish you all well for the conference and look forward to spending some time with you today and tomorrow.


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