Official opening of new Visitor Centre, Waimangu Volcanic Valley

  • Mark Burton

Kia Ora and good evening Ladies and Gentlemen.

On behalf of Carol and I, thank you for what has been an enjoyable and pleasant evening thus far.

This is my second opportunity in a week to celebrate a new development at one of our region's prime tourist attractions.

Indeed, yesterday saw something of a synergy between my defence and tourism responsibilities as we opened the exhibition of the 28 Maori Battalion B Company at the Rotorua Museum.

Last weekend I had the privilege of officially 'hitting the switch ' to light up the Pohutu Geyser and sinter terraces at Whakarewarewa.

This new Visitor Centre is another good example of a tourism operator recognising the need to keep up with the growing demands of tourists for a quality experience.

Waimangu has already established a flexible approach to Visitor Options: This is all about responding to and meeting different visitor needs.

It is by adding value and providing for our visitors, in particular our international visitors, a uniquely New Zealand experience combining the richness of our peoples and cultures, with the natural environmental treasures of our land, that will drive success in the tourism industry.

Ray, June and the rest of the Woolliams family are of course vastly experienced tourist operators – with their development of Fairy Springs, Hells Gate and, since 1990, Waimangu Volcanic Valley.

For a number of years the reserves generated from Hells Gate were used to repair and upgrade Waimangu – which since 1994 has returned to profit and has funded its own ongoing development.

These efforts have deservedly been recognised – last year Waimangu Volcanic Valley won Rotorua Business of the Year, and this year was a finalist in the most prestigious New Zealand Tourism Awards.

I note that the company prides itself in "Exemplary Practice in Social, Economic and Environmental management, resulting in a clear vision and strategic direction."

I am very pleased that Waimangu is a member of the Green Globe 21 industry consultation group, an environmental standards programme that the Government has funded.

This is precisely the sort of commitment to sustainability that I, as Minister of Tourism, am trying to encourage throughout the industry.
Tourism is the fastest growing sector in New Zealand and my priority is to work with the industry to ensure that the growth is sustainable – socially, economically and environmentally.

I have no doubt that Tourism will be a key driver of economic growth in our regions and indeed in the prosperity of New Zealand, but it must be managed properly. That requires a partnership between the private sector, local government and central government.

Industry leaders like the Woolliams family, their external director Bruce Davidson and Waimangu Volcanic Valley, have a vital role to play in this future.

Thank you once again on behalf of Carol and myself for the opportunity to participate in this official opening night. I wish you continued success and prosperity.