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Cultural focus vital for sustainable tourism

27 May 2004

Cultural focus vital for sustainable tourism

Cultural tourism is one of the sector’s most potentially valuable areas, as well as an essential part of industry sustainability, says Tourism Minister Mark Burton.

At today’s launch of the Rough Guide to Mâori New Zealand, Mark Burton emphasised the importance of cultural experiences to overseas visitors.

“It’s easy for New Zealanders to forget just what an amazing heritage and lifestyle we have. In the past, Kiwis have been guilty of downplaying, underselling, or under-valuing our culture—so much so that we don’t even mention the vast array of cultural opportunities on offer to our international visitors.

“More and more, however, we are coming to realise the value of our diversity and uniqueness. Our culture is what makes us who we are, and guests from our target market want to experience it first-hand,” said Mark Burton.

Tourism New Zealand and the Maori Tourism Network worked with Rough Guides to produce the booklet, which will be distributed in the United Kingdom through the Daily Telegraph newspaper, premiere travel magazine Wanderlust, and at the Chelsea Flower Show, where New Zealand is exhibiting for the first time.

Mark Burton says that cultural tourism has already proved to be a winner.

“Whale Rider, a story about a girl from a community not many had ever heard of, is an ideal example. This ‘little film’ captured the imagination of the world—showcasing our unique Maori culture and spirit of independence. Today, the whole world wants to know more about who we are.

“Building a strong cultural tourism market, which includes such areas as Maori cultural experiences, performing and visual arts, museums, festivals, and historical sites, is the next phase in implementing the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010. That is why this government has implemented funding packages for five regions across New Zealand to develop their own cultural tourism markets, in cooperation with Tourism New Zealand.

“Cultural tourism, by its very nature, allows guests to interact with our natural and made environments, while encouraging the care and protection of those environments. It strikes the right balance between the economic benefits of tourism and the guardianship of our people, cultures, and landscapes. It is a key component of building a truly sustainable tourism market.”

ENDS

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