Tourism Taskforce Must Focus On Now, Not Never Never
A leading tourism businesswoman says the newly established Tourism Futures Taskforce needs to urgently focus on the industry’s immediate challenges, not the never never.
Veronika Vermeulen, owner of Aroha New Zealand Tours, says it’s concerning the Minister of Tourism has directed the taskforce to ‘continue the work started by Tourism New Zealand to reimagine the future of tourism.’
Her comments come as the first round of the Government’s Wage Subsidy Scheme runs out, with a stricter criteria now in place for businesses to apply for an eight-week extension.
“It’s crunch time for our tourism operators. Their immediate future must be the priority of the new taskforce. We’re pleased with the co-chairs who have been announced, but we now need to understand what the group’s objectives are and outcomes will be,” she says.
Ms Vermeulen says the $40 billion industry is grateful for the Government’s $400 million Tourism Sector Recovery Plan which includes a domestic marketing campaign, a Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme and up to $20.2 million for New Zealand's 31 Regional Tourism Organisations. However, there is growing concern the public-private Tourism Futures Taskforce could be a talkfest, when firm plans are needed.
While the Government is right to want to ‘rebuild a sector that's more economically, environmentally and culturally sustainable’, she says many smaller operators are already achieving that with international acclaim.
“Protecting the big tourism operators seems to be a priority, but let’s not overlook our many smaller operators. Afterall, they’re mostly the ones who have already reimagined the industry’s future, developing world-leading eco-tourism practices and authentic experiences.”
She says the challenge for the taskforce is not to reinvent the wheel.
“Thanks to a lot of hard work in recent years, our industry is already full of smaller, smarter, more sustainable operators focused on quality not quantity. Let’s now keep them alive, not let them go, then try to reinvent them later,” says Veronika Vermeulen.
Veronika Vermeulen is owner of Aroha New Zealand Tours and a travel industry expert. She has been welcoming high-value, luxury foreign travellers to New Zealand for over 20 years.