Burton Announcement of Wellington Holiday Inn Dev
Burton Announcement of Wellington Holiday Inn Hotel Development
Good evening. I’m pleased to be here tonight to help celebrate this exciting new development in the heart of central Wellington.
When I first received the invitation to speak, I had hoped that this would be another occasion where I would be able to be unreservedly positive about the future of New Zealand’s tourism sector.
But tonight, with the recent events in Bali still fresh in our minds, it’s important to address the concerns we all share, both as individuals and as representatives of a vital industry.
Over the past year, we’ve all had to come to terms with a drastically changed outlook towards international travel.
Indeed, right now our thoughts are with the many families in New Zealand and around the world who have lost family and friends, or who are still waiting for news of their loved ones.
Our hearts go out to everyone who has been touched by this tragedy.
But if we are ever going to beat those whose desire it is to disrupt the lives of ordinary people—and they must be beaten—then we have a responsibility—indeed, an obligation—to go about our daily lives with our heads unbowed.
We must continue to plan for a future where we live our lives to the fullest, and to build that future on optimism.
I believe that optimism is warranted. Just over a year ago, when the events of September 11 changed the outlook for New Zealand’s tourism sector so radically, many doubted that we would recover. I believed we would.
But I also knew that it would take the combined efforts of the Government and the industry to instigate and sustain that recovery.
In the period immediately following September 11, key tourism sector representatives worked tirelessly with the Government, under the co-ordination of Tourism New Zealand, to carefully promote New Zealand’s global reputation as a safe, friendly tourism destination.
Working together, we were able to ensure that a consistent, calm assessment of the emerging domestic and international situation was communicated.
As a result, New Zealand was able to mobilise a swift, well-coordinated response. And by January, unlike most other global destinations, we were back onto a growth path. Throughout 2002, the outlook for tourism has remained positive.
This work continues in the face of Sunday’s tragedy in Bali.
I believe that by continuing to work in partnership, we can turn the New Zealand Tourism Strategy’s vision of a sustainable, high yield sector into a reality—one that will enhance both the experience of our visitors and New Zealanders’ quality of life.
The latest tourism forecasts, released in August by the Tourism Research Council New Zealand, indicate that we can expect substantial increases in international visitor arrivals over the period to 2008. We can also expect our visitors to stay longer and spend more. This message is resonating with investors, and I believe that Nigel’s (McKenna) optimism regarding the tourism sector is as high as my own.
Melview Developments has a successful track record in residential property development and the decision to become a part of the tourism sector at this time is one that I know has not been entered into lightly.
It’s quite remarkable to think that this Holiday Inn marks the first purpose-built hotel in Wellington since 1990.
Since that time, Wellington’s has transformed from a place best known as a public service and political centre to that of a vibrant, cosmopolitan city.
Increasingly, Wellington is known for its arts and culture, its thriving, stylish city centre, and for its restaurants and entertainment.
Wellington’s image didn’t change by accident. I want to acknowledge the smart strategies employed by the Wellington City Council, which are significantly responsible for this dramatic transformation.
Their strong appreciation of the value of tourism, and support of sector initiatives, has ensured Wellington’s place as an important destination for both domestic and international travel.
As the centre of government and with a dynamic commercial sector, Wellington is the country’s second largest business travel destination, with 8.2% of New Zealand’s visitor days overall.
This makes the industry very significant to the local economy and a great generator of jobs and opportunity for our community.
Melview’s four-star Holiday Inn development is an ideal addition to Wellington’s thriving tourism industry. A hotel of this quality will also add to Wellington’s reputation as a visitor destination.
I believe that quality is at the heart of building the perception of New Zealand as a world-class, sophisticated, year-round destination. And that means quality in every aspect of our visitors’ experience.
From the food they eat, to the service they receive, to the activities they choose, and everything in between—everything New Zealand offers must be of the highest possible standard.
Both Holiday Inn and Melview are known for their focus on quality. Nigel’s vision is “to provide Wellington with a four star hotel that embodies five star amenities.”
Recently I attended the opening of the newly renovated Auckland Central Backpackers Complex. Although they are obviously targeting a very different segment of the accommodation market, I believe that their vision is very similar to yours—a “five-star experience” for every single guest.
This understanding of the importance of quality is vital to enhancing our international reputation.
We will never be able to market New Zealand as the most easily accessed location in the world. We will never be able to say that we are the world’s cheapest place to visit. And we will never be able to say we have the highest number of visitors in the world—nor would we want to!
But if quality becomes the ultimate focus of our tourism industry, we will be able to say (proudly!) that we are the best destination in the world.
We boast a diverse and sophisticated culture, fine food and wine, adventure tourism beyond compare, and, yes, the most beautiful natural environments in the world.
Some of our most unique events are being promoted internationally by Tourism New Zealand. Events such as the Wild Foods Festival, the International Festival of the Arts, the World of Wearable Arts Awards, Pacifica, Masterclass Wine and Food, and the L’Oreal New Zealand Fashion week, are all being showcased overseas.
The world’s perception of New Zealand is evolving.
Tourism is already a vital part of our economy, comprising 10% of our gross domestic product, as well as supporting one in ten jobs through over 15,000 businesses.
But broadening and deepening our image overseas will introduce an even greater potential for sustainable growth throughout the sector.
This government is committed to the success of the tourism industry, and this level of quality is key. As Minister of Tourism, I look forward to working with more industry representatives such as Melview, who understand the importance of striving for excellence at every level.
Congratulations to Melview Developments, Six Continents Hotels and to all those associated with the establishment of this hotel.
I look forward to meeting with you again in 2004 to celebrate the hotel’s opening.