Tourism Minister Addresses ITOC Conference

  • Murray McCully

Tourism Minister Murray McCully is predicting foreign exchange earnings for 1998 will be "very close to even with last years" despite the downturn in Asian visitors.

Addressing the ITOC Conference in Queenstown, Mr McCully said the refocusing of the New Zealand Tourism Board marketing strategy last year had been timely.

"While we will suffer a 5% to 7% downturn in numbers overall for calendar 1998, we should see our earnings figure close to that of 1997. This masks a huge underlying shift in character of our business," he said.

"While markets like South Korea will suffer a 90% downturn on last years performance, the exchange rate has given us the ability to really sharpen our performance in our traditional markets.

"I expect to see double digit growth in arrival numbers from North America and Australia over the next year, with earning figures that are even better.

"The private sector has reacted to this challenging environment by getting leaner, meaner and hungrier. So too, must the public sector get leaner, meaner and hungrier.

"Between the New Zealand Tourism Board and the Regional Tourism Organisations we have a substantial budget to market New Zealand overseas. It is no great secret that I believe that we could profitably invest more in international marketing and both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have confirmed that we are considering such options."

"But we must not lose our focus on getting as many bangs as possible for our existing bucks. The advent of macro-regions has seen Regional Tourism Organisation budgets improve both their efficiency and their impact."

"My own view, is that there is still some room for improvement as we drive to remove domestic overheads, improve use of new technology and, most of all, maximise our impact in the market through stronger partnerships," said Mr McCully.