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Tourism Strategy change of direction long overdue

The Government’s draft tourism strategy that opened for consultation today is long overdue and a much-needed change in direction from purely increasing visitor numbers to something more suited to managing the high number of visitors we experience today, says the Tourism Export Council New Zealand (TECNZ).

Judy Chen, Chief Executive for TECNZ says, “We welcome today’s announcement and our members have been saying for some time that our tourism policy settings were no longer fit for purpose for the tourism environment we now operate in. Where once it was purely about the number of visitors we could attract to our shores, it’s now about how we manage those numbers sustainably in a way that enhances the visitor experience, protects our landscapes but also spreads the benefits of tourism to more regions and New Zealanders.”

The Government’s tourism strategy was launched in Wellington this morning, with the topline aspiration to; ‘Enrich New Zealand through sustainable tourism growth’. This was underpinned by three goals; Productive Growth, Sustainable Growth and Inclusive Growth. The strategy also set out how the government will work with the tourism sector, iwi, local government, communities and other stakeholders to take advantage of the opportunities associated with both international and domestic visitor growth and to manage the impact of this growth.

“The industry hasn’t been sitting on its hands waiting for the Government to come up with a new strategy and many TECNZ members already actively work in the sustainability, productivity and inclusiveness space as they know they have to protect what makes New Zealand an iconic visitor destination. Done well, this strategy will set out the framework and direction for the next chapter in New Zealand’s tourism story.”

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“We know that tourism has grown faster than many communities can cope with and this has put unplanned strain on local infrastructure with the locals often the ones paying for new carparks or public toilets through their rates. The Tourism Infrastructure Fund (TIF) goes some way to addressing these needs and we would not want to see this fund phased out when the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) is introduced mid next year. These considerations all form part of the conversations that need to be had during the Tourism Strategy’s public consultation.

“The IVL will add another $35 per person onto a trip to New Zealand. We are already a relatively expensive country to visit and becoming more so when you consider other factors like increasing petrol prices. Visitors are not immune to these increases when you think about them filling their rental cars or motorhomes, or even through increased tour charges as operators try to recoup some of these costs.”

“If the new Tourism Strategy achieves what it has set out to, we will be heading in the right direction to find the balance between more New Zealanders benefitting from tourism and, the country continuing to provide a unique visitor experience that is well worth the money spent to visit here.”

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