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Burton: Holiday Accommodation Parks Conference

Holiday Accommodation Parks of New Zealand Conference


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Introduction

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, and thank you for inviting me to speak to you again this year. I am delighted to be here in Rotorua for this occasion.

This is the fifth time I've had the pleasure of opening this conference. It has become an annual event I look forward to attending and one with many familiar faces. It is one of the highlights of my role as Minister to be able to meet with tourism operators.

The stability of your organisation in this world of constantly changing tourism structures is strong evidence of the worth that you, as members, place in the association, and the value you derive from it.

The title of the conference this year - "Its not about the price" suggests that this is an opportunity to look toward building a quality future.

Holiday Parks and camping are ingrained in New Zealand culture. All of us no doubt, have good memories of camping and summer holiday stories.

However, with the increasing size and value of tourism in New Zealand, and the increasing demand for high quality experiences from all our visitors we should focus on how we can improve quality in all its aspects, so that our industry may continue to thrive.

Tourism Contribution to the Economy Caravan parks hosted over 6.3 million guest nights in the year to April. That's 20% of New Zealand's total guest nights and positive proof of the importance of Holiday Parks to the tourism industry.

Tourism continues to develop as one of New Zealand's most exciting and valuable sectors, with strong growth trends projected in both visitor numbers and spend.

In total, domestic and international visitors spent a massive $17.2 billion on their New Zealand travel for the year ended March 2004.

And I am sure by now that you are aware of the forecast increase in international visitor numbers to 3.1 million by 2010.

Though more important for this years conference theme is that spending from international visitors is forecast to increase significantly faster than visitor numbers, at an average of 8.5% per annum, reaching $11.27 billion by 2010.

As significant as these statistics are, however, I think you are all aware that I am not an advocate of resting on our laurels! The tourism environment is constantly changing and we, as an industry, need to adapt to these changes and capitalise on new opportunities.

Domestic Tourism

I'm aware that many of you have been affected by the increase in the number of, and the availability of low cost Trans-Tasman airfares. Domestic tourism is every bit as important to us as international tourism, with domestic visitors expenditure contributing $9.8 billion of the total spend for the year ended March 2004.

I hope to be in a position to convene a cross agency group after the election to focus on this important issue and work collaboratively to develop workable options for a way forward.

New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010 When I first 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, had worked together to build a plan for the future.

The sector agreed that tourism had to be sustainable and it had to focus, in particular on yield, and in doing so, enhance the experience of visitors and the quality of life of New Zealanders.

Quality

One issue raised in the Strategy which I have been particularly passionate about is Quality. In my view quality is at the heart of a sustainable tourism industry.

Visitors who share good memories and experiences are our most effective ambassadors for New Zealand. That word of mouth advertising we couldn't buy even if we were prepared to spend the millions of dollars it's worth. So constantly striving to improve the quality of the visitor experience is a crucial goal for us.

We continue to work closely with the sector to resource and improve quality standards through such initiatives 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.

As many of you are aware, Qualmark certification provides visitors with easily recognisable, independent assurance that they can book and buy with confidence, from a professional and trustworthy operator.

Today, Qualmark has become New Zealand tourism's official quality mark and I understand that over 100 Holiday Accommodation Parks are now certified. This is a great testament to those businesses commitment to quality.

Tourism Workforce & Skills Issues The continued sustainable growth, and the quality of the tourism industry, also relies heavily on the industry's effective utilisation of its workforce.

This means that not only must there be sufficient numbers of workers with the skills that tourism employers need, but employers also need to utilise workers in ways that deliver sustainable levels of productivity.

These imperatives pose significant challenges. Over the last five years, there have been dramatic changes in the labour market. Unemployment has fallen as low as 3.4% and labour shortages across the economy are the highest they have been for thirty years.

The labour market now, and in the foreseeable future, is likely to remain highly competitive. At the same time New Zealand is increasingly targeting higher value travellers, people who will place greater demands for quality service on the tourism workforce.

Place within this context a tourism industry that is growing at a faster rate than the economy at large, is innovative and currently providing great experiences for our overseas visitors but which also has a reputation for relatively low pay, low levels of skills training, a lack of clearly articulated career paths, difficult hours and seasonal limitations to many jobs. Clearly things need to change if we are to meet those challenges.

Given the scale of these challenges we need to build on and support the industry leadership on workforce and skills issues. The focus has been on ensuring that employer and operator organisations are around the table with the Industry Training Organisations, education and training providers, and government.

The first output from this collaboration was the Tourism Workforce and Skills projections report which forecasted the tourism industry's labour requirements to 2010. I launched this report in November last year.

The key findings from the report are that the industry will need 4,500 new people per year to sustain projected growth and a further 12,750 people per year as replacement staff to cover high levels of staff turnover.

The next step is to develop an action plan to ensure that the industry can respond to these findings. This work is underway again as a collaboration between key industry representatives and government.

My Ministry has actively encouraged the stakeholder organisations to continue to collaborate to address workforce and skills issues across the whole tourism sector.

The Ministry of Tourism are partnering with the group to ensure that resources are available to develop a workforce and skills strategy to respond to the issues in the projections report.

On the ground, you are dealing with these issues everyday, how to recruit, retain, and improve the productivity of your staff.

A common call is for the industry to communicate career paths to prospective workers, but first you must identify whether these exist, what they are and where holiday parks employment lies within the wider tourism industry.

When in a competitive employment market there will be pressure to increase remuneration.

However as employers you will all know that the money has to come from somewhere, if it is not going to come off the bottom line then it needs to come from better margins and improved productivity.

Conclusion

There are huge opportunities for all of us to benefit as the tourism sector grows. We can expect increasing 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 working closely with the sector to continue to build enduring success stories for our communities.

And I have no doubt that the members of HAPNZ will be sharing many of their success stories in the future.

Once again thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today and I wish you well for remainder of today's proceedings. Kia ora mai tatou katoa.

ENDS

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