LABOUR’S TOURISM POLICY PRESCRIBES MORE GOVERNMENT CONTROL

  • Dr Lockwood Smith
Tourism

Labour's tourism policy is a prescription for more uncertainty and government control of the tourism industry, according to Tourism Minister Lockwood Smith.
"While Labour's policy is full of up-beat talk about tourism as a crucial industry for New Zealand's future, it then makes the fundamental error of assuming that future growth will depend on policies that raise costs, undermine prospective investment and introduce more government control," Dr Smith said.

"Tourism is an exciting and innovative industry, and it cannot afford to lose prospective investors through shonky economic policies that raise investors' risk premium, or raise costs through higher taxes, an ACC monopoly and inflexible employment law.

"A recent Tourism Industry Association membership survey found that competition in the provision of accident insurance services has resulted in 72 percent of members paying lower ACC premiums, and 42 percent of respondents reported an increased focus on workplace safety as a direct result of the new environment. But Labour intends to reverse these benefits.

"Labour's policy also prescribes increased Government involvement in the sector, which the industry rejected outright earlier this year when the Tourism Board became a political whipping boy for the Opposition.

"The notion of bureaucrats in Wellington creating agencies, taskforces and reviews to report directly to Ministers will not be welcomed by the tourism industry.
"Damien O'Connor's view that the Tourism Board has no clear direction, his lack of commitment to the 100% Pure campaign and Labour's discussion of new marketing strategies are also concerning. The last thing the industry needs now is more uncertainty on marketing direction, and the possibility of further delays as a Labour-Alliance Government decides on yet another global marketing strategy.

"100% Pure is achieving good traction and penetration in international markets, and I've heard no call from industry for yet another strategy.

"While Labour's objectives for tourism are consistent with my own, their prescription of more Government control and further uncertainty on marketing will not be welcomed by the tourism industry. Further, its policies of higher taxes, more union control and a monopoly on ACC will impose higher costs and damage the industry's investment prospects," Dr Smith concluded.