Hon Murray McCully, Minister of TourismTourism
Tourism Minister Murray McCully says the government plans to take a major role in attracting large events to New Zealand.
In a speech to the Canterbury Tourism Council AGM, Mr McCully indicated that in the next few weeks he would be launching details of a government initiative to ensure New Zealand has a more unified and proactive role in attracting big-ticket events.
Mr McCully said New Zealand could look to its Australian neighbours to see how events have enhanced their tourism industry.
"Many New Zealanders think nothing of crossing the Tasman for a weekend to see a musical or go shopping," he said. "I want to address how we can get a similar flow from Australia back to New Zealand."
Mr McCully said New Zealand was on the brink of an extraordinarily exciting period but he believed many people had not grasped the full significance of the years ahead.
"The Fact that New Zealand will be (arguably) the first country in the world to see the dawn of the new millenium means the international spotlight will be on our country,"he said. "In short, we are facing a once in a millenium opportunity that is unique to New Zealand alone."
"Our research shows that a large number of people plan to visit New Zealand but they are looking for a reason to do it. What better incentive than to be first to witness the beginning of the new century?" Mr McCully said. "We should be sending that message out loud and clear as it will be a long, long time before we can boast such a feat again."
He said the flagship of the millennium series of events is the America's Cup which will benefit New Zealand in terms of profile and economic impact.
"The scale of this event is greater than anything New Zealand has seen before. Its economic impact will be ten times bigger than the Commonwealth Games held in 1990."
Mr McCully said across the Tasman in Australia the Sydney Olympics will have a huge impact on New Zealand.
"Those who visit will hardly be able to resist the chance to hop across the Tasman to visit us," he said.