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Mark Burton's address to Hospitality Association


Hospitality Association of New Zealand - Awards for Excellence

Congratulations to HANZ for one hundred years of service to the hospitality industry. The Government has just experienced a similar milestone—last year we celebrated our own century of formal involvement with the tourism industry.

A strong hospitality industry is, of course, one of the key components to building a successful tourism industry.

New Zealand may have some of the greatest scenery in the world. (Well, actually, we do.) We can offer our visitors a myriad of exciting things to do and see while they are here, and these things are all vitally important.

But high-quality places to stay, eat, drink, and relax are equally important in building New Zealand’s reputation as a sophisticated, world-class destination. Tonight is about celebrating industry achievement, and congratulating all the participants because, however good the facilities and produce, it is the quality of service—the people—who are the key to true excellence. And I don’t think we New Zealanders celebrate our industry achievements enough.

Award ceremonies like these provide a wonderful opportunity to recognise some of the many people who are contributing to the ongoing success of our hospitality sector.

Tonight, each of you has a right to be proud, both of your personal achievements and of the industry as a whole.

2002 began with great uncertainty. We didn’t know how big a toll the events of September 11th would take. Combined with the great concern about the future of Air New Zealand, the overall picture looked pretty uncertain.

But with 2002 nearly over, New Zealand is back on a growth path. In the year to June, international arrivals were up almost 5%, visitor days were up almost 14% and visitor expenditure was up almost 15%.

All forecasts point to this trend continuing. We expect international visitor arrivals to increase by 6% per year to 2008, with corresponding growth in these key yield factors—visitor days and expenditure. In the domestic market, operators can look forward to steady growth of 22% in domestic spend and 72% in international spend by 2008.

The future looks bright for tourism as a whole, and it would certainly seem that hospitality will be enjoying its fair share of this growth.

But growth in purely numerical terms isn’t the way forward. Already we have skill shortages across the entire sector, hospitality included. This is an issue of training, employment opportunity and security, and remuneration.

Issues of infrastructure must also be addressed, and New Zealand can still do much more to fulfil our potential as a sophisticated, culturally diverse, year-round destination.

It will take the combined efforts of the whole sector and the Government to ensure that our tourism market is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. Indeed, this is the core idea underpinning the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010.

We all stand to benefit from realising this vision, and this presents you with both a challenge and an opportunity. The success of the strategy relies on everyone in the tourism sector adopting aspects of it that are relevant to them.

That said, I want to tell you—I am very optimistic about our future.

As I travel around New Zealand, I get the opportunity to see and experience the services and products that enthusiastic, entrepreneurial Kiwis are developing.

So the future is bright for you as an industry, but the more ways we can find to work together productively in partnership, the better that future will be.

And with that, I’d like to propose a toast. If you would please charge your glasses and be up standing…..

To one hundred years of hard work and resilience, to finding innovative solutions to today’s issues, and to the future success of New Zealand’s hospitality industry.

To success…..

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