The government’s new tourism strategy sets out its priorities for the sector and will guide its actions when it comes to addressing issues, strengthening the system and providing support.
Of course, strategies are meaningless without action, so how the government goes about trying to achieve its aims will be what matters in the years ahead.
Here are the Ticker‘s five takeaways:
The country’s regional tourism organisations are taking on more destination management work and those that are part of economic development agencies have always had an element of that activity in their remit.
The strategy will “guide the development of the regional destination management plans” and, interestingly, the government “will identify priority regions to work with directly and develop guidelines to be shared with other regions”.
The government wants to improve the industry’s understanding of destination management, help build capability in the space, and support the development and implementation of destination management plans. The strategy notes “enabling access to sustainable funding sources and investment (IVL – MBIE, DOC)” to support such activity. So, will some IVL cash be dedicated to supporting destination management? We certainly hope so.
Providing long-term sustainable funding sources for the sector is a priority for the government but it notes only three potential mechanisms: the International Visitor and Conservation Levy, more revenue raising from the Department of Conservation, and whatever the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into local government funding comes up with in terms of tourism.
The Commission, due to report in November, could make a number of recommendations, and the government’s response will be watched closely.
Data and insight
Poor data is a bugbear for the industry and better quality data and insight is another top priority for the government. There’s a lot of change under way with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s data offering with datasets or surveys recently discontinued, under review, or being amended so it will be interesting to see what comes out of the current shakeout. Could industry be looking at a smaller but better data provision from the ministry?
And how will it all connect with Tourism New Zealand’s relatively new work in the space? The strategy notes the need to “identify future trends and global megatrends that could impact on the New Zealand- Aotearoa tourism system (MBIE, TNZ)”. That could be valuable new insight for operators and regional tourism organisations investing in overseas markets but, as always with data, bringing it all together into an easily accessible, useable form will be the key.
Strong iwi partnerships
The strategy stresses its support for Māori tourism but will any new mechanisms be created for that support to flow? Will NZ Māori Tourism play a bigger development role in the years ahead or will MBIE take on more capability building in the space?
What’s not in the strategy
No mention of referendums – not that we expected any – but it is worth noting that the government’s desire for Queenstown to run a bed tax poll sits uneasily alongside the principles and ambitions of the new strategy. Tourism minister Kelvin Davis says Queenstown is a special case but we disagree, it should, in fact, be treated as a case study of how an effective tourism strategy deals with pressure in the system.
Also, there’s no mention of visitor-generated GST as a possible source of revenue for the sector so unless the Productivity Commission recommends it, the government might feel justified in ignoring industry pleas for some of it be returned.
Lastly, implementing the strategy will require resourcing and we think there’s more than enough new work there to justify increased budgets for MBIE’s tourism team and Tourism NZ. DOC received a big budget boost last year – will the government’s other tourism-related agencies get more cash too?
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