Draft Tourism Strategy launch

Welcome and thank you all for coming here this morning.

I would like to acknowledge Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage, and give my thanks for the work that the Department of Conservation is doing with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in regards to the tourism sector.

This is an exciting time for tourism in Aotearoa.

More and more visitors want to see our beautiful country and enjoy our unique kiwi hospitality, our manaakitanga.

International visitor arrivals have grown by over 40 per cent in the last five years. 3.8 million visitors now arrive to our shores annually. By 2024, this is forecast to grow to 5.1 million each year.

This growth will bring significant benefits to our regions and people. Tourism is already our largest export earner and a vital part of our economy, our regions and our communities.

However, our current tourism system isn’t set up to make the most of these opportunities. It features a number of policy settings and funding arrangements that were never designed to deal with the growth we’ve seen in the past five years.

In some areas, our infrastructure and communities are struggling with this level of visitor growth, raising concerns about the impact on visitor experiences and community wellbeing.

This Government has listened and responded.

I established the Responsible Camping Working Group earlier this year to improve the freedom camping system, making $8.5 million available for immediate actions based on their recommendations.

I recently announced almost $20 million in funding for the second round of the Tourism Infrastructure Fund. And next year we will be rolling out the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy.

These are just a start. We are committed to tackling these issues over the long term.

We need to strengthen the stewardship of the tourism system.

We want to take a more deliberate and coordinated approach to tourism to ensure that tourism growth is productive, sustainable and inclusive.

This morning, I am releasing the Government’s draft Aotearoa-New Zealand Tourism Strategy for public consultation. This sets out government’s role in enriching New Zealand through sustainable tourism growth.

It shows how Government intends to take a more active and deliberate role with stakeholders and communities to shape future growth and better coordinate our investments in tourism.

The focus is on maximising the benefits of tourism growth, while managing and mitigating the risks.

The ultimate aim is to make sure that tourism growth is productive, sustainable and inclusive.

What does this mean? The draft strategy has five key outcomes that identify what success would look like.

These include:

  • More productive tourism growth. We need value to grow faster than volume.
  • Delivering exceptional visitor experiences that draw on our unique visitor proposition.
  • Ensuring that tourism makes a positive contribution to New Zealand’s natural, cultural and historic heritage. This includes how our visitors connect to our land, people and stories, particularly in relation to Māori tourism.
  • Making sure that New Zealanders’ lives are improved by tourism. This is critical to the industry’s social sustainability.
  • And finally ensuring that regions and communities benefit from tourism and inclusive growth. This includes ensuring whanau, iwi and hapū can benefit from tourism. 

These outcomes are long-term and aspirational. But I believe Government can achieve these by working in a joined-up way across agencies.

The work of the tourism industry, local government and communities is vital to ensure the success of tourism in New Zealand.

I want to acknowledge those stakeholders here today who have played an important role in shaping the draft strategy.

It has been a truly collaborative effort between the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Department of Conservation.

It has also involved a range of other agencies as well as targeted consultation with industry stakeholders.

 The strategy identifies a large list of priority work areas that must be undertaken to achieve long-term success.

In the first couple of years it is likely that a particular focus will be required on a few of these areas, such as improving destination planning and implementing the recommendations of the Responsible Camping Working Group.

I want to know what is significant to you. It’s important we take the time to kōrero with industry and the community to hear their views on the strategy.

We want to make sure that our vision for the future direction of tourism line up with what industry and New Zealander’s want tourism to look like.

We are undertaking consultation on the draft strategy until February next year and we invite you to comment on the draft.

This draft strategy provides a future roadmap for the tourism sector and its stakeholders.

The government is also focused on developing tools to help implement the strategy.

The International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) is one of these tools, delivering about $400 million in revenue over five years.

We’ve previously signalled that the revenue from the Levy will be split 50:50 between conservation and tourism.

With respect to tourism, this funding will help drive the outcomes of the draft tourism strategy. The two are aligned.

We will use it to protect the things that make New Zealand special, and make sure that we have the facilities that support a great visitor experience, without imposing unnecessary costs on our communities.

An Investment Plan outlining the specific Levy projects will be developed with input from an advisory panel made up of industry, local government and conservation stakeholders.

The IVL will be a crucial tool for implementing this Strategy.

It will reinforce how we want to work together with the sector.

I know tourism can deliver productive, sustainable and inclusive growth for all New Zealanders.

I look forward to receiving your views, and continuing to work with the tourism industry to maintain New Zealand’s well-earned reputation as a premium destination.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.