Māori tourism definite advantage for NZ

There’s plenty of scope for Māori tourism in New Zealand to grow, says Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

She has opened the World Indigenous Tourism Summit in Waitangi today and says a Māori dimension is crucial to this country’s hugely important tourism sector.

Tourism is our country’s biggest export industry, contributing 21 per cent of New Zealand’s foreign exchange earnings. Our tourism industry continues to grow, directly and indirectly employing 14.5 per cent of the workforce in Aotearoa.

In 2008, just 361,000 overseas tourists reported visiting a Māori tourism experience. Latest annual International Visitor Survey statistics show this number had grown significantly by 2017 with more than 50 per cent of 3.7 million overseas tourists engaging in a total of four million Māori tourism experiences. And the industry sees further great potential.

“While it is hard to ring-fence the economic value of Māori tourism we do know there are some indigenous rock-stars in the industry and plenty of scope for Māori tourism to grow,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

In a survey conducted by the Ministry of Māori Development in 2014, more than 100 Māori tourism operators indicated their desire to expand and to look to future markets so they can understand what they need to do to develop.

“Twenty years after the first Treaty of Waitangi settlements, many iwi now have a significant asset base to leverage off and many are choosing to invest in long-term sustainable tourism ventures.

“Alongside this has been a proliferation of small to medium Māori tourism enterprises – many of which start off small and are initiated by whānau or family groups,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

“A range of opportunities could be explored as we think about further development of a connected network of tourism products, experiences and events that could link to regional growth and employment.

“For example, I am keen see the development of heritage trails linking our famous battle sites and history across many of our regions.

“There are significant tourism opportunities for whānau and local communities to get into and the conference will help extract the valuable dimension that Māori culture can bring to the industry.”