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Greens to re-establish Ministry of Tourism

The Green Party say they would re-establish an independent Ministry of Tourism as part of a drive for greater strategic management of New Zealand's biggest industry.

Green Party Co-Leader and tourism spokesperson Rod Donald will launch the Party's tourism policy in Queenstown tonight.

"The tourism industry is highly successful and doesn't need government to tell it how to manage business or market products," says Rod Donald. "What is required is objective oversight to ensure the industry operates in New Zealand's best long-term interests.

"We have a Ministry of Agriculture, a Ministry of Fisheries, but no Ministry for our single most important industry. When key decisions are made in officials meetings there should be a representative of tourism around the table. We need a separate and adequately resourced Ministry of Tourism to provide that voice."

The strategic implications of climate change for the tourism industry were also highlighted by the Greens.

"Climate change threatens many of the natural features that people come here to enjoy, and also puts a question mark over future long distance air travel. Both aspects pose strategic risks and need a strategic response.

"At the same time, I've discovered that New Zealanders spent $2.7 billion on overseas travel last year, which makes it a significant economic issue.

"New Zealanders will always travel overseas but it would help if they saw their own country first. It's ridiculous that the current government won't let the Tourism Board promote New Zealand to New Zealanders."

Looking more broadly, the Greens see big spin-off benefits for tourism from their conservation policies.

"Initiatives like a new network of national parks in the South Island high country will attract more tourists and bring employment to rural areas. Marine reserves will provide opportunities not only within the reserves, with activities like diving, but outside the reserves, where bigger fish will build trophy fisheries," Rod Donald said.

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