Seatrade Pacific Cruise ConventionTourism
Ladies and Gentlemen
The New Zealand Minister of Tourism, Murray McCully, has asked me to deliver this speech on his behalf. He sends his apologies for not being able to attend this conference personally, but he has been detained in New Zealand due to events which were beyond his control. These events will no doubt be apparent to those of you who have been following New Zealand politics in the past 24 hours.
The past six years have seen a period of enormous success for the New Zealand tourism industry.
Since the establishment of the New Zealand Tourism Board in 1991 we have seen a 62 % growth in visitor arrivals.
But this does not mean that New Zealand is now relaxing complacently.
Instead we have taken time to refocus on what we offer visitors to New Zealand and how we market it.
With that in mind I have been working with the New Zealand Tourism Board to develop a new strategy that will take our industry into the next Millennium.
Personally, I am totally committed to a long term view of our role in tourism, a view which emphasises the sustainability and quality of our tourism product.
With that in mind, our strategy reflects a change in emphasis on the way we look at tourism. We are moving away from measuring tourism in terms of the number of "bums on seats" and refocussing on attracting high-yield visitors to New Zealand.
We see valuable opportunities in events and niche marketing.
And it has not escaped out attention that the cruise ship market falls clearly into this category. I want to assure you today that the New Zealand Government is totally committed to the Cruise ship industry.
This can be illustrated by the number of legislative changes our Government has made. Over the past decade New Zealand has reformed its ports and shipping regulations to become one of the most cruise friendly destinations in the world.
Today our Ports have become commercially responsive and are open to negotiation to suit the individual needs of the cruise market. All Ports are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. For passenger vessels, New Zealand prices are approximately 40-60% lower than Australia for a full menu of port charges and services.
New Zealand is one of only 3 countries in the world with an open cabotage policy. Foreign flagged and foreign crewed vessels are able to operate freely in our coastal waters. This means that cruise operators can achieve back-to-back itineraries on the New Zealand coast. After 30 days, an operator may seek an extendible agreement for the crew under the Immigration Act.
The New Zealand government has specifically gone out of its way to make the country "cruise friendly". For example, passenger ships are allowed to have their bars open at all times, both in ports and on coastal passages. Casinos and duty free shops can be opened on coastal passages. And passengers from the majority of countries do not require visas.
In short, New Zealand has, and is continuing to be, turned into a cruise friendly country.
Legislation aside, New Zealand has an excellent cruise environment. It lies in the heart of the South Pacific Region - a series of interconnecting, regional cruise industry locations. It is only a short flight away from Australia, Fiji and other exotic destinations.
Although not much bigger than Colorado or Britain, New Zealand encompasses a kaleidoscope of landforms and contrasts probably unmatched by any country in the world. Vessels can steam overnight and be in a totally new environment the next day - ranging from the unspoilt white-sand beaches and rainforests of the sub-tropical north the deep uninhabited Fjords in the South. As no part of the country is further than 68 miles from the sea - the geothermal regions and stunning alpine scenery in the country's interior can easily be reached on day trips.
Visitors need look no further for a reason to come to our part of the world.
This region is on the brink of a remarkably exciting period.
The fact that New Zealand will be the first country in the world to see the dawn of the new millennium should not be taken lightly.
We are in a unique position as a result of our place in the international time zone and the hosting in this region of a series of events which will draw intense international interest.
It means that our country will be under the international spotlight like never before.
The flagship of the millennium series of events is the America's Cup Series.
The scale of the America's Cup is greater than anything New Zealand has seen before.
Unlike any other event, it will put New Zealand in the international spotlight, not merely for a day or a week, but for five months
There will huge opportunities for visitors to come to New Zealand to enjoy the event.
While they're here they can hardly ignore the massive number of other major events taking place in the country during the next few years:
The World Cup of Golf next November at the brand new course in Gulf Harbour.
The 1998 World Motorcross Championships
The 1999 World Netball Championships being held in Christchurch.
The 1999 Junior FIFA Soccer World Championships.
Not to mention the events under consideration:
The 2006 Winter Olympics - here
The Mountainbike World Cup Final - 2000
Rugby World Cup - 2003
At around the same time, across the Tasman in Australia the Sydney Olympics is another reason for the rest of the world to focus on our region.
These big ticket events provide a large window of opportunity to sell our tourism message to the world.
With so much going on, we must surely show to the world that this is our Golden Age(.that the Pacific is THE region of the new millennium.
Our tourism industry has seen some outstanding successes, the events scheduled for the next few years will play a large part in setting our region firmly on the international stage as a must see destination in the new century.
I look forward to working with you to ensure that it happens