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Burton: Nelson/Tasman Tourism Industry Meeting

Nelson/Tasman Region Tourism Industry Meeting

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.

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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

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.

As an industry you are a key contributor to the success of tourism in our country.

Tourism is fundamental to New Zealand's economic well-being and to the economic well-being of many of our regions, our towns and our smallest and most remote settlements. Tourism has many positive spin-offs - the farming and horticultural industry for example, also benefit from tourism, through supplying produce to the food and beverage sector. As I mentioned before, tourism represents nearly 10 per cent of GDP and is responsible for one in ten jobs. Without your contribution, we wouldn't have these jobs.

New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010

Tourism's ongoing success requires partnership.

When I became Minister, it was clear that we needed to work hard to build relationships between government and the tourism sector.

In 2001 when I launched the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010, it was the first time the entire tourism sector, both public and private, worked together to identify a vision for the future.

The sector agreed that tourism had to be sustainable, it had to focus on yield rather than numbers, and it had to grow tourism financial returns while enhancing the experience of visitors, and the quality of life of New Zealanders.

Sustainability

Sustainability is critical to achieve this vision and is one of the key objectives of the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010.

In February this year, with my colleague the Hon Marian Hobbs, Minister for the Environment, I announced funding of $1.2 million for six regions to take part in the three-year Environmentally Sustainable Tourism project.

And no doubt most of you will be aware that Nelson was one of the six successful regions. I understand that some of you also are involved in this project.

And I understand that some of you are well on your way with a Draft Nelson Charter already developed by charter members, and pilot visitors for stage one identified.

I believe the interest was so high that several businesses have had to wait until phase two to be part of the project. This is very pleasing to hear and I intend to follow your region's progress with great interest.

Making real improvements in individual business performance means that the industry as a whole can "walk the talk", justify their marketing, improve their yield and as a result progress to being a truly sustainable industry.

Our 100% Pure marketing campaign-a widely recognised, award-winning brand-also makes the most of New Zealand's landscape images in our target markets around the world. And we know it is New Zealand's spectacular and unique landscapes that are still a key to our attraction as a destination. Whale Rider and the Lord of the Rings trilogy showcased New Zealand's scenery to millions of movie-goers internationally.

The Nelson/Tasman region is no exception when it comes to spectacular and unique landscapes.

Quality

Another issue raised in the Strategy which I am particularly passionate about is Quality.

Quality and a commitment to quality lies at the heart of a sustainable tourism industry. Visitors who share good memories and experiences are our most effective ambassadors for New Zealand. They give word of mouth advertising that we couldn't buy even if we could afford to spend the millions of dollars it is worth. So constantly striving to improve the quality of the visitor experience is a crucial goal for all of us.

Our government has, and continues to work closely with the sector to resource and further improve quality standards through initiatives such as Qualmark. Since the launch of the Strategy, the Government has invested $2.5 million to develop Qualmark as an expanded business accreditation and quality assurance system.

Today, Qualmark has become New Zealand tourism's recognised quality mark.

Qualmark certification provides visitors with easily recognisable, independent assurance that they can book and buy with confidence, from a professional and trustworthy operator.

Marketing the Interactive Traveller

Tourism New Zealand focuses on marketing our product to those whose motivations best match New Zealand tourism offering and has identified the interactive traveller as New Zealand's ideal visitor. The interactive traveller is someone who is discerning, demands quality, is environmentally aware, looks for authentic experiences, and is prepared to pay well for them.

These visitors will also get out and about in our regions and appreciate our unique culture whether it will be enjoying fine wine and cuisine at a world class winery restaurant, or a Kiwi BBQ at the beach.

Interactive travellers are high spending visitors, and as you may know, they can be more demanding clients, which means the quality of service we deliver is critical.

The 'Interactive Traveller' concept is about applying the values, such as sustainability, to Tourism New Zealand's international marketing work. In this way, Tourism New Zealand is helping future-proof the New Zealand tourism experience by actively seeking visitors who will enjoy and acknowledge our environment, values and culture.

Tourism in Nelson

Nelson is an important domestic travel destination, attracting visitors from Canterbury, Wellington and Auckland during the summer season. Holiday makers are the dominant visitor type to the area.

Despite cheap trans-Tasman airfares affecting domestic visitor numbers, there has been good growth from your traditional international markets.

For the period May 2001 to May 2005, there has been a 64% increase in guest nights from UK / Ireland market, a 38% increase in guest nights from North America and an 18% increase in guest nights from Germany.

Visitors nights spent in the region have been forecast to increase to 4.8 million by 2010. The consequent increase will take the international and domestic total to 4.8 million visitor nights, with expenditure reaching $649 million by the end of the forecast period (2010). This equates to an impressive 57.5% growth.

By 2010, international tourists will account for 62.6% of the expected growth in total visits, and 57.6% of the growth in total spend to 2010.

Major Events Support

Another important government initiative that is relevant for this region, is the Major Events Development Fund. We initiated this fund in last years Budget to attract, retain and grow a bigger portfolio of events for New Zealand. This year we are supporting the initiative to a higher level of $3.5 million per year.

As part of this work, there are actions underway to grow the highly profitable conventions market. Again this support of major events is intended to contribute further to the positive economic growth that we have seen over the last few years for tourism.

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

This city definitely has great appeal as a conference destination - it offers a pleasant climate, is close in proximity to the capital city and presents visitors with many authentic cultural experiences.

Seasonality is one of the issues you face as a region. I understand that nearly 60% of all guest nights and arrivals are during the peak season of December to March and that nearly 20% of all guest nights and arrivals are during the low season of May to August. Developing a conventions market would certainly help address some of the seasonality issues.

The 2005 ITOC (inbound tour operators council) is being held in Nelson shortly - this will be a good opportunity for the local industry to showcase Nelson as a quality visitor conference destination.

The Importance of Regional Tourism Organisations I would also like to acknowledge Latitude Nelson - your regional tourism organisation.

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

They also encourage and advise you, and act as an information channel bringing key regional tourism issues to the attention of council and central government.

If securing funding is anything to go by, Latitude Nelson has been working very hard for your region, and secured New Zealand Tourism Strategy Implementation Funding not just for the sustainable tourism charters but also for also for cultural tourism development. This funding equates to a total of $335,000.

In addition, I approved funding of $99,000 from 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 further enhance the visitor experience to Nelson/Tasman region.

I would like to pay tribute to the work of Paul Davis for the work he has done to bring together local operators to work on a strategy for the region.

It 's fair to say that most of these operators, like their counterparts around the country could be described as small to medium sized businesses. In fact small to medium sized businesses are the lifeblood of our tourism industry.

Running a small or medium sized business is not easy. Our government has recognised that and has worked hard in supporting them to succeed.

In this year's Budget changes to tax continued the government's campaign to simplify tax and reduce business compliance costs.

These changes have been carefully implemented to stimulate economic growth, making it easier for businesses to become more productive and efficient.

As Minister of Tourism I value the huge contribution that small to medium sized business make to the tourism industry and to employment.

Working with Local and Regional Government Local Government is arguably one of our biggest tourism operators. 2003 research showed that local authorities invested $29.5 million in tourism - their single largest area of direct economic development expenditure. As some of you will know, local government is responsible for planning and managing many of the natural and cultural resources on which tourism depends, for providing core infrastructure and utilities, and for funding regional marketing and the Visitor Information Network.

In many ways, local government is responsible for shaping the tourism sector in each region - in doing so, they must meet the needs of both their communities, and the visitors who come to enjoy what they offer. It is therefore important that as an industry you get involved with your councils as much as you can - to make sure tourism is recognised and planned for.

Conclusion

As I said at the beginning of my comments, tourism's unprecedented success is no accident. We have got to where we are today by building effective partnerships and working together.

To continue to make the most of the benefits that tourism growth can offer our communities, it is essential that these relationships continue. The tourism sector won't be a success without your enthusiasm, commitment, planning and investment. There are huge opportunities for all of us to benefit as the tourism sector grows.

We can expect increasing employment opportunities throughout New Zealand, and we can expect increasing wealth as well, with international visitor spending forecast to increase by 77% by 2010.

I look forward to continue working closely with the sector to create enduring success stories for our communities. And I have no doubt that you in Nelson/Tasman will be sharing many of your success stories in the future.

Once again thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today and I now invite your questions.

ENDS

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