Tourism minister Kelvin Davis has dropped the biggest hint yet that targeted support for the hard-hit tourism industry is in the pipeline for next week’s Budget on 14 May.
Speaking to the Ticker, the minister said that his involvement in consultation around the Tourism New Zealand-led project to reboot the tourism system provided an opportunity for industry to put forward ideas to government and he had “been working with colleagues on a potential offering” for Thursday’s Budget 2020.
“We are always looking at what we can do to assist [tourism operators]. The benefit of the [consultation] webinars is that there have been a number of ideas come out which are being assessed, so we are giving industry opportunity for ideas to be heard. We’re open to all the ideas that are out there,” Davis said.
“Hopefully we will have a decision next week that means we move into level 2 and people can start moving around the country and enjoying our tourism offerings. Then the next stage after that is the rebuild which is where our work with TNZ and the industry will start to kick-in.
“And there is the Budget next week – we can’t pre-empt what decisions are being made – but we have been working with my colleagues on a potential offering there.”
He said that although the Government was keeping an open mind about the support it could provide the sector, he would not be doing operators any favours by delivering “mixed messages” about what this might comprise.
“Why am I not out there on my soapbox musing about that idea or this idea? One of the things I don’t want to do is to start talking about random ideas that may give mixed messages to people in the industry and I don’t want them to make business decisions based on are we going to change the school holidays for example,” Davis said.
“If they hear me say it then they might think they need to change and open two weeks earlier or two weeks later or hire more staff and if something doesn’t happen they will say ‘why did the minister give these mixed messages and we made decisions based on what he said’.
“It is important for me to speak when I have something to say and I can be more solid in what I am saying to the industry so they can actually make their business decision with a degree of confidence.”
On progress with the TNZ-led plan to develop a plan for how tourism will operate in a post-Covid-19 world, which is being undertaken alongside the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Department of Conservation and industry stakeholders, the minster said he had received advice back, and hoped to be able to share it with industry “within weeks, if not sooner”.
“We have received the advice back and that advice is going through ministerial consultation. So far – I can’t preempt the final form of it – but I’m pretty happy with the outcome in that it gives the tourism industry a sense of direction,” Davis said.
“If we take a step back – everybody knows that tourism is going to look different [post Covid-19] but no one could really articulate it until we went through this process about what it actually look like, and until we actually know what it looks like it is hard to know the path to take to achieve that ultimate outcome.
“I think this [process] has been really good, it will give everyone a good understanding of the future of tourism, how we need to govern it differently, and the things that are important.”
16 Jun 2020 Davis retains number 2 position on Labour list