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Hon Mark Burton: Tourism Eastland AGM

Hon Mark Burton: Tourism Eastland Regional Tourism Organisation's AGM

Tourism Eastland Regional Tourism Organisation's AGM

Good Evening. Firstly I would like to acknowledge Your Worships, Les Probert and John Forbes and the Chair of Tourism Eastland, Richard Cootes for inviting me here this evening.



Good Evening. Firstly I would like to acknowledge Your Worships, Les Probert and John Forbes and the Chair of Tourism Eastland, Richard Cootes for inviting me here this evening.

I am delighted to be here this evening and to have had the opportunity earlier in the day to experience some of the product offering of this town.

Tourism Contribution to the Economy

New Zealand's tourism industry has been experiencing an unprecedented boom in recent years. We welcome over two million visitors to our shores each year and in 2004, international tourism's contribution to total exports was $7.4 billion - 18.5 percent of our total exports.

Combined with our strong domestic market, total tourism spending represents nearly 10 per cent of GDP and accounts for one in ten jobs.

As our major markets have matured, factors such as New Zealand's relatively small size and remote location have increasingly become advantages rather than disadvantages. Through experience, tourists have become more confident and independent than ever before, and are seeking exotic, activity-laden and unspoilt destinations.

Where New Zealand used to be seen as distant and, even by some, - 'behind the times' - it is now seen as an exciting, innovative and attractive niche destination.

The Eastland region has so much to offer to both domestic and international tourists. Kiwis love beaches and many Kiwis still come to the Eastland region for their favourite holiday experience - camping and swimming at the beach. Some will come just for the surf.

And international tourists cannot get enough of the breathtaking, picture perfect views around the East Cape. And yes - there is no other region in the world in which they can claim they were the first to see the sun.

If the forecasts are anything to go by, there are some exciting times ahead for the Eastland region. Forecasts indicate that the region will go through a huge growth pattern in the next five years, particularly in the number of international visitors to the region.

In 2003, international visitors made up 10.3% of total visits to the region and 36.5% of total visitor spending. Visits to the Eastland Regional Tourism Organisation region are expected to increase by 12.1% to 1.2 million, an average annual growth rate of 1.6%. The increase in visitor numbers will mean a consequent increase to 2.5 million visitor nights and expenditure of $329 million by 2010.

These statistics definitely paint a bright future ahead for tourism in the Eastland region.

The New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010 Tourism's success must be founded on successful, ongoing relationships. 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 is critical to achieve this vision and is one of the key objectives of the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010.

It is important that whatever we do to promote the growth and economic prosperity of the industry, we will, in the long term, help safeguard the future of the environments and values that make New Zealand so special.

Our 100% Pure New Zealand 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. And you will appreciate that we simply cannot afford to take our spectacular environments for granted. It is crucial that we continue to adopt sustainable, environmentally sound business practices.

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

The Sustainable Tourism Project funding will be used to appoint a sustainability assessor who will promote the Charter and assess all the member businesses.

Prior to assessment, the member businesses will be expected to re-new their membership and sign up to the Charter. With the support of the project-funded sustainability assessor, all Charter members will develop a sustainability action plan.

The action plans comprise a range of sustainability actions (such as using energy efficient lighting, hot water cylinder wraps, installing solar heating). The action plans are a business' commitment to working towards achieving the Charter's principles.

Not only is sustainability about protecting the environment, it also encompasses factors like community support for tourism. And the sustainable tourism charters work. Gisborne wasn't one of the regions involved this time around, however the Ministry of Tourism have conducted workshops for regions interested in being part of the scheme in the future.


Quality is also one of the key objectives of the Strategy, and of achieving those economic benefits that tourism brings.

I cannot stress enough the importance of a commitment to, and delivery of, quality to the tourism industry. New Zealand's 100% Pure New Zealand brand is all about delivering an authentic, quality experience. To live up to this promise, the tourism sector must focus on quality at all levels of the experience, from product inception to delivery.

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.

They give word of mouth advertising that money just can't buy. So constantly striving to improve the quality of the visitor experience is a crucial goal for us.

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

Since the launch of the Tourism Strategy, the Government has invested $2.5 million to develop Qualmark as an expanded business accreditation and quality assurance system.

Today, Qualmark is recognised as a reliable indicator of quality products and services across New Zealand's tourism industry, within New Zealand, and increasingly in our key overseas markets.

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

The Interactive Traveller

Tourism New Zealand is continuing to target New Zealand's 'ideal visitor' - we call them the 'Interactive Travellers' - in its offshore marketing campaigns.

Interactive Travellers are considered ideal because their travel needs best fit New Zealand's product offering. It is about future-proofing the New Zealand tourism experience by actively seeking visitors who will enjoy and respect our environment, values and culture.

The high-yield interactive traveller is someone who demands quality and who comes to New Zealand for authentic experiences with our natural, social and cultural environments - and who is prepared to pay well for these experiences.

Typically, these visitors will 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 experiencing a traditional Maori hangi.

As well as fine wine and cuisine and beautiful beaches, Gisborne has a lot to offer the interactive traveller. The Pacific Coast Highway, wine tours, horse treks, tours to White Island and the list goes on - the location is, in itself, a drawcard for the interactive traveller. Most places in Eastland offer 'off the beaten track' experiences, which provide these visitors with the opportunity to experience real New Zealand and real New Zealanders.

As I have noted in developing the New Zealand Tourism Strategy, I brought together key industry players and wider stakeholders to develop a clear, shared direction for this crucial sector. In 2001 I launched the Tourism Strategy 2010 which for the first time there was a vision and strategy to go forward. Since that launch a great deal has been achieved to implement the strategy's many recommendations for action.

Domestic Tourism

But the tourism environment is constantly changing, and we, as an industry, need to adapt to these changes, and capitalise on new opportunities.

Investing in a strong, smart international marketing campaign to build New Zealand's target inbound visitor base has been a clear priority for this government - and it will continue to be so.

However, domestic tourism is every bit as important to us as international tourism. Indeed with domestic visitors expenditure contributing $9.8 million of the total spend for the year ended March 2004, it continues to be the strong foundation on which the industry is based and built.

It is essential that we grasp every opportunity that will help stimulate domestic tourism in New Zealand, especially if it reduces the impact of seasonality on our regional destinations.

Accordingly, it is my intention, after the upcoming election, to bring together industry and wider sector interests to take stock of implementation of our Tourism Strategy 2010, and to work collaboratively on this and other critical and related issues such as industry personnel needs and training, seasonality and quality assurance.

Local Government Investment

So, as New Zealand's popularity as a destination continues to increase, it is important that we don't sit back and rest on our laurels. Our emergence as one of the world's premiere destinations certainly didn't happen by chance. We must continue to invest in tourism marketing and development at both a local and national level. As you are fully aware, Regional Tourism Organisations play a vital role in promoting the region both domestically and offshore.

To do the job well, Regional Tourism Organisations need reliable and ongoing funding. Without this commitment, regions would not be in a position to reap the benefits of tourism growth.

And in times of rapid growth, one of the main challenges local authorities face is in the provision of infrastructure. As central government we face exactly the same issue throughout the economy.

With our international visitor nights having grown by an average 9.4% per annum over the last five years, ensuring that infrastructure can meet the needs of our visitors is a big challenge.

Local government also has a huge role in tourism. As 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.

It is pleasing to see that accommodation infrastructure in Gisborne has increased.

I know the Prime Minster was pleased to officially open the Portside Hotel earlier in the year, and I understand that the Emerald Hotel will be opening soon.

Community Support

As Minister of Tourism for the last five and a half years, I can say that in every region I have visited, locals are always passionate about their town.

From what I have experienced again today, Gisborne is no exception. It is this passion that you must continue to foster.

Tourism is fundamental to New Zealand's current and future economic well-being, and to the economic well-being of many of our regions, our towns and our smallest and most remote settlements. However it is important that tourism growth is managed and part of this is ensuring that the community support is ongoing.

Unmanaged growth can be quick to take it toll on small communities, and communities are quick to let you know their thoughts. Planning for and managing appropriate tourism growth is critical for ensuring ongoing community support for tourism.

I met with Vintage Rail and Cruise Gisborne earlier today. I must commend everyone involved including Tourism Eastland in developing rail tourism in the region.

It is important that communities continue to work together, and this as a good example of partnership between, government, industry and the community.

ONTRACK, New Zealand's railway corporation are working hard towards getting the Gisborne heritage operators up in running.

Conclusion As I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, tourism's unprecedented success is no accident. We have got to where we are today by 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 and strengthen.

The tourism sector won't be a success without your support, 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 have no doubt that there are exciting times ahead for the Eastland region. I wish you well with the upcoming Food and Wine festival and a prosperous 2005/06 summer season.

Once again thank you for the opportunity to speak to you this evening.


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