Tourism Industry Aotearoa has underlined the need for a true partnership between industry and Government as it looks to a post-election rebuild of the battered tourism sector.
In a blog post by chief executive Chris Roberts published on Friday, TIA said that when the new Government is elected on 17 October, tourism operators will be looking for a “clear signal” of a willingness to work with industry to address immediate needs and achieve long-term aspirations.
The first action to demonstrate this support would be to for the new government to allocate the tourism portfolio to a senior minister, Roberts said, adding that the portfolio had been held by the prime minister or a front bench MP since 2008.
The need for an associate minister was “also obvious, to stay across all the issues and help manage the workload”.
TIA also wanted the cross-government Tourism Recovery Ministers’ Group to continue after the election. The group was set up to oversee the $400m tourism recovery package and included the ministers of tourism, finance, Māori development, conservation, and the undersecretary of regional economic development.
It also planned to “take a close interest” in the progress of the Tourism Futures Taskforce, which is a creation of Government but has private sector input.
Roberts said that while TIA was in “no doubt” that further direct financial support for tourism businesses would be needed, supportive policies were going to be just as important.
“The support is not just about money. The incoming Government must commit to providing the policy settings to enable the fastest recovery possible, along with easing international travel restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so.”
TIA also called for longer term planning beyond the immediate needs of the industry, noting that the sector wanted a Government that would work with it to identify national tourism infrastructure priorities and include these in its infrastructure strategies.
“Prior to the pandemic, we had identified that the growth in visitor numbers was putting pressure on some communities, mainly because of a lack of infrastructure. We now have a never to be repeated opportunity to plan for a well-supported, sustainable tourism industry, and we must not miss this chance,” Roberts said.
He pointed to other countries which were “grasping the opportunity” giving the example of the West Australian Government which has announced a A$230m investment in upgrading tourism infrastructure.
TIA also called on the new Government to rule out any new tourism taxes.
“Our industry has taken a battering and needs a strong helping hand to get back up off the canvas,” Roberts said.
“Tourism businesses are in no position to bear any extra taxes.”
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