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Nelson i-SITE Visitor Information Centre Opening


Hon Mark Burton Speech
Nelson i-SITE Visitor Information Centre Opening

Introduction
E nga reo, e nga waka, e nga iwi - tena koutou
E nga mana, rau rangatira ma (e koro ma, e kui ma)
E nga hau e wha - tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa

To all respected people gathered here for this celebration - tena koutou katoa. Your worship, Ministeriral and Parliamentary colleagues.

I am delighted to be here this morning to share in the celebrations of opening this fantastic new facility.

Tourism Contribution to the Economy As many of you will know, tourism is the world's largest industry, and tourism in New Zealand has emerged as an international success story.

In 2004, international tourism's contribution to New Zealand's exports was $7.4 billion-close to 18.5 per cent of our total exports. Combined with our strong domestic market, total tourism spending represents nearly 10 per cent of GDP ($17.2 billion), and is also responsible for one in ten jobs.

Visitor Information Network

A quality experience is vital to the continuing success of the New Zealand tourism industry.

The provision of independent, current, quality information is an essential part of the overall quality experience we offer our visitors.

It is important that we deliver quality at all stages of the visitor experience as this in turn strengthens the long-term sustainable competitiveness of New Zealand as a destination.

Visitor Information Centres or i-SITES are an important part of supporting and promoting the capability of the New Zealand tourism industry.

The New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010 recognised the importance of quality information, and identified the Visitor Information Network as an integral part of delivering a quality visitor experience. In fact, it aimed to make the Network the most valued source of objective New Zealand information and travel services for the independently minded traveller, and our government backed this up with the funding that has led to the fantastic new 'i-SITE' brand.

The re-branding and re-launching of the visitor information centres has undoubtedly contributed to the success of visitor information provision in New Zealand in the past two years.

Research conducted in 2004 shows that many visitors as a result of their visit to an i-SITE learn more about activities, attractions and events in the district or region they are visiting, and so stay longer and spend more. I encourage you to continue to invest in the provision of quality information in your district.

Recently I announced that the Visitor Information Network will receive $270,000 over the next three years to conduct research into visitor satisfaction, booking and buying behaviour at i-SITE visitor information centres throughout the country. An additional $135,000 over the same time period will go towards improving the way i-SITEs operate. This funding will ensure that i-SITE visitor information centres continue to be a high quality source of objective tourism information.

I was also pleased to provide a $99,000 grant through the Tourism Facilities Grants Programme for the development of an audio-visual presentation, an internet 'self help' facility and a piece of interpretive artwork for the new i-SITE Visitor Information Centre. These new facilities will only enhance the visitor experience to the Nelson/Tasman region.

Local Government Investment

Local government has a vital role to play in the provision of visitor information. In most cases, it is local government who fund our Visitor Information Centres or i-SITEs.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the Nelson City Council for supporting tourism in your region by building this quality public infrastructure and undertaking a high-tech approach to visitor information servicing.

You will be well aware that in times of rapid growth, one of the main challenges local authorities face is in the provision of infrastructure. With visitor nights in the Nelson-Tasman region forecast to increase to 4.8 million by 2010, it is important that you plan for this growth. Quality infrastructure contributes to a quality experience, and the City Council has made a good start in providing this magnificent facility.

I also understand that the City Council is planning to build a new performing arts/conference centre, and has budgeted $10.8 million for the 2009/2010 financial year for the project.

This new centre will be a valuable asset for those working so hard to promote this region.

I would also like to acknowledge the value of the Tasman District Council and Nelson City Council's investment in regional marketing through funding Latitude Nelson.

Regional tourism organisations are important in promoting your district and region, both domestically and offshore.

They also encourage and advise local tourism operators, and act as an information channel bringing key district tourism issues to the attention of council and central government. To do their job well, which I can assure you they do, regional tourism organisations need reliable and ongoing funding.

Without this commitment, regions such as yours would not be in a position to reap the benefits from tourism growth.

Latitude Nelson has been working very hard for your region, and secured New Zealand Tourism Strategy Implementation Funding for cultural tourism development and sustainable tourism charters. This funding equates to $335,000.

Conclusion

This new centre will enhance the strong local efforts of all those involved in promoting tourism for the region, from small front line businesses to local and central government agencies.

I applaud the work you have done, and I have no doubt visitors to the region will be drawn to this impressive facility.

Thank you again for the opportunity to share in this important occasion, and celebrate with you.

ENDS


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