New Office of Tourism and Sport Established

  • Murray McCully

The Government is setting up a new top-level policy unit that will be known as the Office of Tourism and Sport. It will replace the Tourism Policy Group in the Ministry of Commerce and the Sports policy function in the Department of Internal Affairs.

Cabinet Minister Murray McCully, who holds both portfolios, said the new office will have "a significant strategic role".

"It will be responsible for developing policy advice on tourism, sport, fitness and leisure issues and for maximising the interface between tourism and sport," he said. "As an independent agency, it will also monitor the outcomes of the work of the NZ Tourism Board and the Hillary Commission."

"The new policy unit recognises that New Zealand's tourism marketing focus has moved more towards 'major events' related tourism activities, said Mr McCully. "Upcoming events such as the America's Cup and the World Golf Cup are just as much tourism events as they are sports events so it makes sense for one Government policy unit to straddle both."

The Minister said he had been "extremely impressed" by the manner in which Tourism and Sport co-operated in Victoria, Australia, and believed that bringing the Government responsibility for both "under one roof" was a key element in their success.

Mr McCully said a key shift of the focus of tourism is to concentrate more on yield than volume.

"That signals a need for us to take more creative initiatives at the higher-value end of the market," he said. "This clearly will require higher quality advice and more innovative strategies.

"The NZ Tourism Board has narrowed its focus to concentrate primarily on international marketing activities, so the Office of Tourism and Sport will fill the gap created as the Board withdraws from policy advice and some project management functions.

"The new Office will oversee the relationship with the Government Statistician as we commence preparing a Tourism Satellite Account for the first time this year. This will comprehensively measure the contribution of tourism to our economy. The Office will also provide advice on Government-to-Government matters which I envisage we will require as we work more closely with Australia and the rest of the Pacific region on joint research initiatives in the markets where our efforts tend to be complementary rather than competitive.

"First priority is the appointment of a Director and a core staff of about half a dozen, as well as a ministerial advisory board to ensure the new policy unit remains outwardly focused," said Mr McCully.

The Office of Tourism and Sport will work with Crown Entities such as the New Zealand Tourism Board, the Hillary Commission, The New Zealand Sports Drug Agency, and Major Events New Zealand, and liaise closely with private sector tourism groups such as the NZ Tourism Industry Association and the Inbound Tour Operators Council.

The new policy unit will be sited alongside the Department of Internal Affairs and will begin operation on July 1.