The New Zealand tourism sector has a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to change the way the industry operates, says Tourism Industry Aotearoa.
There is no doubt that the tourism industry New Zealand takes into the next decade will look considerably different to the old one,” said Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts.
Tourism minister Kelvin Davis announced on Wednesday morning that the Government and industry would work together on a plan to restart tourism “in a post-Covid-19 world”.
The initiative would be led by Tourism New Zealand.
Responsibilities included rethinking the way tourism was governed, how it was marketed domestically and internationally, and how visitors were managed when they arrived in New Zealand.
Roberts said it was essential the private sector was involved at the centre of the discussions, from the beginning.
“The ‘new tourism’ is not something the Government can design and then impose on the industry. This has to be a genuine government-industry partnership, or it will fail,” he said.
Private sector industry leaders had already started thinking about the industry’s future.
“We can do better in managing congestion, pressure on the environment and other issues. We now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a fresh look at our industry, to shape tourism for the benefit of Aotearoa and our people,” said Roberts.
“We will never have a better opportunity to plan, to ensure tourism delivers the best outcomes for both host communities and visitors.”
Regional Tourism Organisations New Zealand’s executive director, Charlie Ives, said the initiative reflected the significant role RTOs played in the New Zealand tourism sector, and the role they would play in recovery.
“What this shows is that the regions are really important to the whole equation. The regions are the grassroots of tourism,” said Ives.
“While RTOs are pivoted towards wider community engagement and destination management, what this shows is that the RTOs are a key part to the domestic restart programme, and are key to recovery and putting things back together.”
Today’s announcement was “a realisation that the government alone cannot do this”.
“It’s a realisation that if it was a top down directive, then it probably isn’t going to work,” said Ives.
“It’s going to challenging, and they need to take people on the journey with them.”
Alongside the initiative, the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) investment plan was also under review.
Lisa Hopkins, chief executive at Conventions and Incentives New Zealand, said she would like to see business events’ contribution to the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy driven directly back into the industry to support recovery.
“The business events industry had contributed directly to the levy since its inception in July 2019. From July until year end December 2019 approximately 47,500 business events delegates arrived in the country, contributing approximately $1.7m to the levy,” she said.
“Tourism New Zealand and the Government are fully aware business events is a high-value sector that generates a significant impact economically, but also socially, providing jobs and encouraging investment across the regions.”
“Conventions and Incentives New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand have a strong partnership and we look forward to working closely with them, representing the experience and knowledge of our industry,” said Hopkins.
Tourism Export Council of New Zealand chief executive Lynda Keene said this was an opportune time to create a new roadmap for tourism in New Zealand, but it didn’t need to be reinvented from scratch.
“Many strategies have worked well over the past 20 years. Look at what’s worked well, build on from there. Definitely increase focus on Māori tourism, culture, environment, sustainability, technology and changes in way bookings are made,” she said.
However, Keene said there was an implied suggestion that businesses had not been fiscally well-managed prior to Covid-19.
“This is not the case at all. First, businesses have always operated on a basis of financial sustainability. Whether they be small, medium or large size business,” she said.
“Second, tourism is not broken. It has hit a major speed bump that will take 6-24 months to regain visitor arrivals to levels for businesses to produce surpluses and profit. It has been a star performer for the New Zealand economy for the past seven years.
“Yes, it might take another few years to hit the peak levels we’ve had over the past three seasons. That’s okay. Tourism is a resilient business and will come back.”
Keene said the private sector making commercial decisions would drive the recovery.
“These businesses have decades of intellectual property from working in international markets and their input cannot be undervalued when New Zealand is ready to reboot international visitation,” she said.
“Relationships will be key to the fast turn-around, and this is what will drive the uplift in visitors to New Zealand. Tourism operators are relying on ITOs to step up and get things moving again.”
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