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O'Connor: Tourism Industry Conference 2008


Damien O'Connor

4 August, 2008
Tourism Industry Conference 2008

Kia ora

It’s great to be here. Before I start my welcome I would like to acknowledge:
• The mayor – Bob Parker
• Chairman of TIA – Norm Thompson
• Our new TIA CEO – Tim Cossar
• Rod Oram, John Tamihere and other distinguished speakers
• TIA members and conference delegates.

Welcome to the 2008 New Zealand Tourism Conference - ‘Taking New Zealand to the world, and bringing the world to New Zealand’.

Tourism sector achievements

I don’t need to tell you how important the tourism sector already is – you know that. But there are some key statistics I want to repeat. These are the result of what we have collectively achieved.

Firstly, the latest tourism satellite account says we are a 20 billion dollar industry!! That’s how much tourists spent in New Zealand in the year to March 2007. Tourism now contributes 9.2% of our GDP and remains ahead of the dairy industry as New Zealand’s largest export sector. This is a stunning achievement. It also gives me something to skite about when I’m meeting with the dairy sector, as Minister of Rural Affairs.

Last week I released the tourism forecasts for international visitor arrivals and national level domestic travel for the next 7 years. We expect average annual growth of 3.3% in international visitor arrivals that will take us to over 3 million visitors in 2014. This is slightly down from previous growth forecasts, but I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone in the current international economic situation.

The continuing, solid growth that is forecast in the face of these challenges tells us a lot about the strength and confidence of New Zealand’s tourism sector. The work we have put in, together - industry and government - over the last nine years, will ensure our industry continues to grow, innovate, and succeed into the future.

100% Pure New Zealand

The 100% Pure New Zealand campaign is a resounding example of tourism’s success and innovation. The campaign has evolved since its 1999 launch, but its essence has never been diluted. We have also gained through using the 100% Pure New Zealand brand to leverage off opportunities presented by the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the 2007 Rugby World Cup, America’s Cup and many other events.

Our challenge is to continue this leverage though all upcoming events including this month’s world rowing championships and of course the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Tourism New Zealand continues to target the interactive traveller, focus on seasionality particularly into the Australian market and make good use of innovative and emerging technologies.

Brand New Zealand

Our national brand, 100% Pure New Zealand has been ranked eighth out of 54 countries. Of the top ten countries New Zealand was by far the smallest country – in both population and GDP. Perhaps a sign of the single-minded focus of the 100% Pure New Zealand tourism campaign over time.

This success carries with it responsibilities for the tourism sector, and for all of New Zealand. The same survey also ranked New Zealand first of all the countries for authenticity and natural beauty and second for environmental consciousness. This does create expectations in the market around New Zealand’s environmental credentials and leadership.

New Zealand is our tourism product – all of it. Visitors see and experience every part of our country so it is incredibly important that what they see and experience supports the 100% Pure promise of our tourism brand.

Government investments

Over the last nine years, government has invested heavily in key infrastructure that supports growth in our economy. This includes our tourism industry, and the quality of our visitor’s experience.

We bought back Air New Zealand and recently our rail and ferry network. There has been huge funding put into roading, public transport, and conservation management.

In this year’s Budget alone we committed an additional:
• $12 million to Te Papa
• $325 million to spread high speed broadband throughout NZ
• $40.5 million for Maori Business Aotearoa NZ
• $109 million for environmental initiatives (including $72 million for the clean up of the Rotorua Lakes)
• $22.3 million for biosecurity, didymo and border control services

There are also a host of other government initiatives that are focused on getting the big picture right, for all of New Zealand. A few examples include:
• new vehicle emissions standards,
• the Dairying & Clean Streams Accord,
• public place recycling,
• national environmental standards for water

All of these underpin 100% Pure NZ the brand which we have developed so successfully.

To build off that brand we need to ensure it has credible and robust foundations.

New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2015

Last years draft New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2015 is now a reality. It provides a framework for industry and government to work in partnership towards our shared vision. “That tourism is valued as the leading contributor to a sustainable NZ economy.”

We now have an agreed tourism strategy implementation plan. Some of the actions and projects are already underway and include:

• A strengthened International Visitor Survey and Domestic Travel Survey
• Three specific tourism sector guides for operators to improve their sustainability – there are more being developed
• A new Qualmark environmental accreditation system
• And this morning I am pleased to announce that we have allocated the funding for Sustainable Tourism Advisors in 9 more regions

I am also very pleased to announce that Cabinet last week signed off on the tourism strategy implementation plan and has allocated funding of 2.83 million dollars to progress our actions.

The four top priority areas for implementing the Tourism Strategy must be: the environment, offshore marketing, tourism research, and workforce issues. I see that each of these areas will be addressed in the conference programme, and I look forward to the presentations discussions and feedback on each issue.

Funding

I am well aware that to achieve the tourism sector’s ambitious goals, we need additional funding.

The issue of GST is often raised. GST, exise, PAYE and Company Taxes from all industries and sources all go into the consolidated fund. At this stage transport is the only area to have a hypothecated funding system linked directly to income from excise on fuel and road user charges. While the government has reduced the rate of company tax, I am fully aware of the argument that we contribute significantly to government revenue and would like more for marketing.

Tax payers should always contribute to the marketing of New Zealand as the number of beneficiaries goes way beyond those identified as key tourism operators. We need to find a mechanism to allow tourism participants to contribute to an industry good fund. That is why I have raised the concept of a charge on incoming international arrivals via their airline ticket that would be tied to environmental tourism related initiatives, and include marketing and infrastructure projects.

Any progress on this initiative requires widespread endorsement by the industry as government as no intention of imposing a levy without full support from tourism industry stakeholders. I have enjoyed robust discussion with the industry over the last few months and I look forward to progressing it. Then we can as NZ’s number one industry be in a position to leverage more international and domestic support for our tourism industry and directly fund necessary tourism initiatives.

Conclusion

I am very confident that, as a sector, we have the settings right. We have the talent, and we have the enthusiasm to be the leading industry in a sustainable New Zealand economy by 2015.

The great strength of New Zealand’s tourism sector is that we know the future we want, we’ve mapped out a Strategy to take us there, and, most importantly, we’re doing it together. With government and industry talking and working together towards the same vision, we should remain as a country, alongside Milford Sound, the number one tourism destination in the world.

I look forward to the discussions ahead over the next two days. I urge you to make the most of this great event and networking opportunity.

Together, we can take New Zealand to the world, and bring the world to New Zealand.

I will enjoy being here tomorrow evening with the Prime Minister to celebrate our industry award winners for 2008.

Ka kite ano.


ENDS

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