Three Key GoalsTourism
Rodney District Tourism Seminar
"Maximising the Opportunities"
Gulf Harbour Lodge
It's just three short months to the day since I arrived back in New Zealand as the new Minister of Tourism.
I still consider myself a relative newcomer to the industry and I certainly don't profess to be an expert.
I must confess I don't have an extensive background in the industry, not even as a customer.
When I had the time to travel I didn't have the money, and now all I see is the inside of hotel rooms and Ministers' offices.
On the few days I take for myself over the Christmas / New Year period, I usually ride my bicycle somewhere around our beautiful country, sleeping under the stars so I'm not even a high yield tourist - although the restaurants and pubs have done okay out of me.
But for some time I have done tourism work in my trade portfolio.
And there are important synergies between trade and tourism that the Prime Minister recognised when she appointed me to this challenging portfolio.
Essentially, my combined portfolios are about maximising our foreign exchange earnings.
That's the path to prosperity for New Zealand, because we're too small an economy to generate enough growth domestically.
When I first thought of going into politics, I had this ambition that I might one day wind up as Minister responsible for New Zealand's most valuable industry.
I'm privileged to hold this position today, but when I entered Parliament as the Member for Kaipara in 1984, I had no idea that in the 1990s, New Zealand's most valuable industry would be the tourism industry.
In the 1980s of course, our most valuable industries were in the primary production sector.
And those industries do make a huge contribution to our economy.
Most of you know that I'm a great admirer of the dairy industry, and in the year to June 1998, dairy products earned $3.7 billion in foreign exchange.
And you'll know that on my farm, I breed beef.
In the same year, our meat industry earned $2.9 billion in foreign exchange.
As Trade Minister, I spend a lot of time working with manufacturers, who earned us $2.3 billion.
And I've been forestry minister before, and it earned us $2.2 billion.
I'm a great admirer of all of these industries, but I can tell you that tourism, in terms of earning foreign exchange, is more important than any of them.
Last year, tourism earned us $4.36 billion.
That's a great achievement.
This industry commands respect.
It can help us build a better future.
Last week, I addressed the New Zealand Tourism Conference in Queenstown, and I asked industry to set goals into the future - maybe for 2010 or 2020.
I'm asking you here in the Rodney District to do the same.
Your goals need to be credible, but I'd also like them to be just a little bit beyond what you believe is possible right now.
I'd like them to represent a major challenge.
On a national level, let's just say that you decided you wanted to double tourism earnings by a particular year.
It'd mean your forex earnings would increase to $9 billion a year.
There'd be a total of 150,000 tourism related jobs.
And there'd be an extra $4.6 billion on our GDP.
It'd be useful for the industry to set a clear goal along those lines.
My role would be to help you achieve it.
As you know, to do just that, I've established three key goals as Tourism Minister.
The first is a sustainable flow of tourism earnings.
It's about ensuring we attract tourists - and their currency - throughout the year, every year.
The core of it is the Tourism Board's Global Marketing Strategy, which was launched in Queenstown on Friday.
In the public mind, the strategy was somehow distorted to being all about attracting tourists to APEC, the Millennium and the America's Cup.
It was never about those events.
The strategy recognises, though, that even New Zealand's biggest industry on its own doesn't have the resources to promote the product purchase that we're looking for.
For example, if you used to watch Seinfeld, you'll be interested to know it cost around $3.8 million US dollars to buy one thirty second ad slot across the United States.
Obviously, we have to think smarter to maximise the effectiveness of our dollar to promote New Zealand in our international markets.
I won't go into too much detail about the Global Marketing Campaign, because I the Tourism Board is providing a detailed presentation later today.
But just briefly, the idea behind the Tourism Board's campaign is smart.
It relies on potential tourists seeing APEC New Zealand on TV, or reading about it in the newspaper.
Or they might see coverage of President Clinton meeting President Jiang in New Zealand at their post-APEC summit.
Later, they might see the All Blacks winning the World Cup.
And then they might see New Zealand defending the America's Cup.
The Tourism Board's campaign will build on the profile New Zealand receives as a result of these events with a TV advertisement promoting New Zealand as a holiday destination.
On the Internet, they'll see the same message.
This'll also be backed up by billboards, and quality public relations.
The idea is to present them with the unique and compelling proposition - "100 % Pure New Zealand" - that will be consistent across all markets.
It will shift their perception about visiting New Zealand.
It will encourage them to come to New Zealand now, do more when they are here, and come back again and again.
My second key goal is to remove barriers for tourists coming to New Zealand.
It fits in with my work as Associate Minister of Immigration and there has already been some progress in this area.
Already, 14 of our top 15 markets are visa free.
In the last year or so, we've also made progress by giving visa free status to Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Chile, Israel, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Uruguay and some passport holders in Hong Kong, China.
Some are big markets. All are potentially valuable.
We're now down to much smaller markets.
In the next 12 months, we'll be examining a further nine* - hardly the biggest markets, but if barriers have no justification, it offends my notion of common sense to keep them.
Together, these nine have a population bigger than the United Kingdom and Ireland combined.
The next element of work is just as important.
There are good reasons, for example, to continue to require visas for citizens from large, less-well-off economies such as China and India.
But when a wealthy Shanghai or Mumbai businessperson wants to come to New Zealand to enjoy the Twin Coast Discovery Route with their family, we have to make it easy for them to get a New Zealand visa, or else they'll be off somewhere else.
In expectation of becoming the first non-Asian country to be an approved tourist destination for Chinese, we put extra resources into Beijing and Shanghai last year. And the first direct flight arrived from China on Saturday.
We've also opened a new office in Jakarta, and put more staffing into Washington.
There'll be new offices in Moscow and Pretoria next year.
And, after visiting Delhi last year on a trade mission, I've been pushing to expand our immigration operation there.
At the same time, as far as I'm concerned, we should continue to open up our skies as much as possible.
We made good progress on that last year, particularly in Europe and the Middle East.
We're happy to sign an Open Skies Agreement with almost anyone.
My third key goal is removing barriers for the industry - RMA compliance issues and so forth - and that fits in well with my work as Associate Minister of Finance.
Having been involved in the finance portfolio for more than three years, I'm well aware of the major issues facing all our businesses.
As Tourism Minister and your MP, I need your input on prioritising the major issues from a tourism and a local perspective.
I'm happy to modify them and build upon them based on your advice.
And I expect to be held accountable against them - I intend to deliver on them.
I wish you well for this, the fifth annual tourism conference for the Rodney District.
If you're uncertain as to how challenging to make any goals that you set for yourselves, listen to Rob Hamill later this afternoon.
He made a reality what most wouldn't dare to dream of.
He showed us the kind of courage that made this country great.
Go for it. Your industry's future will be limited only by how high you set your own horizons.