• Murray McCully


i am pleased to be here.

quite a lot of water has flowed under the political bridge since i last attended a tourism wellington gathering.

i have managed to secure the extra stripe to move from associate minister to minister of tourism.

and tourism wellington has moved from new boy on the block, to becoming firmly established as one of the pre-eminent performers amongst the regional tourism organisations.

in the tourism and sports portfolios i have the two best portfolios, at the best time. over the next few years new zealand will have the opportunity of a lifetime to project itself on the international stage.

the americas cup provides an opportunity, the scale of which still eludes most aucklanders, not to mention the rest of new zealand.

the year 2000 olympics in sydney will deliver huge sporting, tourism and profile opportunities because of our geographical location.

and similarly, our particular place in the time zone will give us major profile building opportunities in respect of the milliennium.

but these are only the really big ticket items.

over the next few years new zealand can be awash with significant events which deliver individually worthwhile, and collectively huge tourism benefits for our country. there is the junior f.i.f.a. world cup in 1999 - 40 teams competing in auckland, wellington and christchurch.

the netball world cup in christchurch - also in 1999.

and on the list of potential items, the rugby world cup in 2003, the cricket world cup in 2004, and the commonwealth games, which this region aspires to host in 2006.

last week this region hosted the world mountain bike championships - which brought a substantial number of international visitors, a significant boost to the local business sector, and a major boost to wellingtons profile.

some would be tempted to welcome your good luck - and they would be wrong.

that event, and the important benefits which accompanied it, were the result of a targeted feasibility assessment, a professional bid, official support from the local authority, and professional management. in every sense, wellington made its own luck!

and that is what new zealand must do over the next few years.

our neighbours across the tasman have taught us a few lessons in this respect.

the australian tourism commission says that 10,000 kiwis cross the tasman for a bledisloe cup match.

the winfield cup rugby league grand final in 1995 attracted 8,000 new zealanders.

and the three tenors concert in melbourne recently attracted over 7,500 new zealanders.

i am absolutely convinced that the professionalism with which new zealand confronts events tourism will have a significant bearing on our tourism success over the next few years.

in that respect, can i congratulate the wellington city council on its commitment to tourism and tourism wellington. i also congratulate you on moving to improve the focus of your activities with plans to create a new structure for tourism, retail and events .

it is fair to say that you are some considerable distance ahead of other regions and regional tourism organisations in that respect.

just as the wellington city council has understood that the rewards available from the tourism industry are a reflection of what is invested in the industry, so too must central government maintain, re-focus and build its investment in the future success of the industry.

we already make a very substantial investment in new zealands future tourism success.

but there remain areas of investment which require attention.

we urgently need the government statistician to produce a tourism satellite account, officially measuring the foreign exchange earnings from the tourism industry.

how can we possibly ask the public to focus on the bottom line contribution of the industry instead of bums on seats visitor numbers, when the only official statistic we produce is a bums on seats one.

i am pleased to tell you that i have received a very co-operative response on this matter from the minister of statistics, and i hope to have some progress on the issue quite soon.

another area requiring a re-focussing of governments investment priorities is in the research and science area.

this year the government will invest $267 million in science and research.

the animal based sectors of the agricultural industry receive $38 million of that.

arable and horticultural research will receive $50 million.

and tourism?

investment in the key areas of research, forecasting, sustainability issues, the areas which have a profound impact on the ability of the tourism industry to grow quickly and sensibly, attract $400,000 - a legacy of the days when tourism was seen as an industry still wearing short pants, and merely requiring an indulgent pat on the head from time to time.

in 1997 the tourism industry wears very long pants, it earns significantly more foreign exchange than meat exports, wool, or dairy products individually, and will overtake all agricultural foreign exchange earnings collectively inside the next five years.

we need to reflect the significance of that contribution in the investement that we made in the future of the industry.

the past five years have been outstanding years for new zealand tourism.

the establishment of the new zealand tourism board has given a whole new impetus to the industry - best illustrated by a 42% growth in international visitor arivals.

it will be tempting for some to pause, to bask in the reflected glory of some excellent statistics.

it is even more tempting for us to lapse into a business as usual mode, doing the things that are comfortable in the way that is familiar.

but this is no time for business as usual.

the opportunities which lie ahead of the new zealand tourism industry to market its brand on the international stage over the next three years will not be seen again for decades.

this is not time for business as usual.

this is a time for vision, initiative, commitment and teamwork.

i welcome the way in which your organisation in its brief lifespan has shown those attributes, and i look forward to working with you as we enter a truly exciting phase in the development of new zealands tourism industry.