Speech to the Great Southern Tourism Opportunity
It is great to be here in Queenstown, New Zealand’s iconic visitor destination.
Thank you to Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult for hosting this event.
You could say that tourism began in Queenstown in the 1850’s when Tūtūrau chief
Reko guided settler Nathanael Chalmers to Lakes Wakatipu, Wānaka and Hāwea.
Since then the area has become internationally renowned as tourist spot.
So it is only fitting you are now coming together in this place, as a collective, to look at
the opportunities presented by tourism growth across the wider South.
The Government recognises the real potential for tourism to deliver more economic
development in our regions – including for Māori – and to bring wider benefits to our
We are an active Government – with a clear focus on supporting the regions while
ensuring our environment is protected, and tourism has a significant role to play.
Tourism is already New Zealand’s number one export earner and is a key contributor
to many regions, especially here in the South.
And with nearly 5 million visitors expected in New Zealand by 2023 your sector is
going to become even more important to our country.
But this growth is not without its challenges.
I know tourist numbers are putting pressure on infrastructure in some areas and that
we need improved tourism infrastructure - from toilet facilities to car parks to
It’s also important to remember that tourist hotspots, like Queenstown, are also
home to families. Climbing tourist numbers can lead to frustrations for locals, from
increased traffic to people feeling unable to access their favourite public spaces
because they have become popular locations for visitors.
Funding visitor infrastructure and addressing social licence questions are nationwide
We need to address these challenges and identify opportunities to unlock
sustainable tourism growth across your regions and New Zealand as a whole.
And by sustainable tourism growth I mean economically, socially and
New Zealand offers so many world-class experiences that are free to access.
But going forward, how do we encourage further growth while at the same time
maintaining our tracks and visitor services?
I will be talking to the industry and my Ministerial colleagues about how we can work
together to address this.
I’m interested in understanding how we can recover the costs from visitors to reduce
the rates burden on our communities.
There are a range of ways of charging visitors and I know some councils are
individually looking at targeted rates; residential and commercial rates increases; as
well as increasing debt funding to pay for basic infrastructure needed to host visitors.
I am working with my officials to explore the range of potential funding options from
central Government – including a levy – and what options, or package of options,
might work best.
There will also be opportunities to support tourism through the billion dollar Provincial
The fund is aimed at economic development that is sustainable, creates good jobs,
and doesn’t shift development from one region to another. These are all
outcomes shared by the tourism sector.
Another important aspect of sustainable tourism growth is managing the impact of
visitors on the environment.
Our conservation estate is an incredible resource for New Zealand, attracting
international and domestic visitors into the wilderness in our regions.
The Government needs to ensure conservation values are protected.
For the tourism sector, properly managing impacts is also crucial for maintaining the
support of New Zealanders long term.
Finally, we want the interactions that visitors have with Kiwis to be
memorable, authentic and positive.
Our visitors interact daily with people in our communities, whether they work in the
sector or not.
So that means instead of residents in your districts like Te Anau, Lake Hawea,
Oamaru and Geraldine focusing on their frustrations, we want them to focus on the
opportunities tourism can bring.
The challenge for us is to make sure that we communicate the tangible benefits of
tourism to our local people and that they do not suffer because of visitors. For
tourism to grow, they need to want visitors to come and stay longer in our towns.
That’s why collaborative summits like this are important.
I recognise that Queenstown, Southland, Otago, the West Coast and Canterbury all
have unique offerings for visitors and that your individual regions are at different
stages of development as visitor destinations.
While tourism businesses and regions are fundamentally competing against one
another to attract the visitor dollar, it is great to see you all here, taking this
opportunity to think more strategically about how we can we work together and
This summit is also an opportunity to consider that, for visitors, our local government
boundary lines are unimportant and that we should be thinking about the New
Zealand itinerary as a whole.
I hope you take this opportunity presented by Queenstown Lakes District Council to
share your insight and challenges.
I hope you will share your strategies for managing the challenges presented from
strong visitor growth and ways you are engaging your communities.
As Minister of Tourism, I have made it a priority to come to Queenstown and
understand the challenges and opportunities that tourism can bring to New Zealand’s
I encourage you to continue working together and to identify some tangible ways that
councils can collaborate on destination management strategies, enhance the overall
visitor experience and share learnings.
I look forward to hearing the outcomes of your discussion.
It is clear that there is a large number of passionate people involved in the sector,
and I look forward to working with you to ensure that tourism delivers the most it can
for our communities and our people.