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National Certificate in Tourism Maori: Launch


18 June 2004

Speech by Hon Mark Burton

Launch of the National Certificate in Tourism Maori

I am delighted to be here at the Manukau Institute of Technology today, to be part of the launch of the National Certificate in Tourism Maori (level 3)—a course that will commence in just a few short weeks.

Tourism is vitally important to New Zealand—one of our largest earners of foreign exchange and by any measure a premiere industry for the New Zealand economy.

All projections point to a healthy growth in value over the coming years.

Last year alone, international visitors spent a total of $6,383 million in New Zealand.

Each one of these guests is worth the equivalent in earnings of 2.7 tonnes of apples, 2579 pounds of butter, or 1.6 tonnes of kiwifruit. Tourism accounts for over nine per cent of our total workforce—the equivalent of 150,000 full-time employees.

Maori tourism offers an important point of difference for New Zealand on the world stage. We know from our research that Interactive Travellers—the high-value, high-yield travellers who make up our target market overseas—are extremely interested in learning about and engaging with Maori culture.

These guests want the kinds of unique, authentic experiences New Zealand has to offer. They both enjoy and respect our environment, culture, and society.

At the same time, Interactive Travellers expect high quality.

If we are going to meet those expectations, we need quality people who can provide our guests with the excellent service and unique experiences they are looking for—and that is what these new Tourism Maori qualifications are all about.

As the Maori tourism sector grows in strength, both the tourism industry as a whole and the New Zealand economy will reap the benefits.

The government is committed to the ongoing development of Maori tourism. One example is the development of these new NZQA qualifications.

Another is the highly successful round of hui held by my Ministerial Colleague Dover Samuels to engage Maori operators around the country with government business development services.

I want to acknowledge the value of these hui in building a cooperative working relationship with government, as well as in providing first-hand input to policy initiatives.

Recent budget announcements supporting Maori regional tourism groups are a good example.

Budget 2004 allocates $1.3 million over four years for the expansion of the Maori Regional Tourism Programme. The Maori Tourism Work Programme has also received funding of $666,00 over two years.

This initiative is targeted at increasing research and information relevant to the Maori tourism sector, as well as funding business assessments and a mentoring programme for Maori tourism operators.

Another recent venture illustrates Maori tourism’s great potential: The Rough Guide to Maori New Zealand.

Funded jointly through the government’s Tourism Strategy Implementation Fund, Tourism New Zealand, Rough Guides, the National Maori Tourism Network, Air New Zealand, and Tailor Made Travel (UK), this publication generated a real buzz at last month’s TRENZ trade show.

We held the launch on the final day of the four-day event, at a 7.30 am breakfast briefing. At that time of the day, at the end of a pretty gruelling trade show, we were expecting around 50 people. We ended up with well over 100—including some very prominent “gatecrashers” who came to support the occasion!

And just yesterday, the Rough Guide received a commendation from New Zealand’s Race Relations Commissioner, who called it “a great initiative, consistent with other work Tourism New Zealand has been doing to promote the indigenous culture of New Zealand alongside its many other features.”

It is deeply satisfying and welcome to see such a high level of interest in, and commitment to, the development of Maori tourism. It is doubly satisfying to be here today, seeing the future of the industry so well grounded in quality.

I congratulate the NZQA for the development of these qualifications, and Manukau Institute of Technology for being the first to offer them. We need the brightest and the best to continue the building of our industry. Appropriate education is one of the keys to achieving this.

So in closing, I wish the foundation students, and all those who choose this path in the future, a successful and interesting course of study.

You are, I can assure you, joining one of New Zealand’s most exciting, innovative, and important industries.

ENDS


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