As part of our Election 2020 coverage, we hand over our weekly Wednesday Letter to each of the main party tourism spokespeople for their vision for New Zealand tourism. This week, the National Party’s Todd McClay.
New Zealand’s tourism sector has felt the full force of Covid-19.
The Government’s border closures, lockdowns and ongoing restrictions have caused significant and widespread disruption to the industry which supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across New Zealand.
In 2019, tourism was the country’s largest export earner, supporting the jobs of 400,000 New Zealanders.
The overnight collapse of the international market has been unprecedented. Around 92,000 jobs are at risk this year alone. And with no timeline on a trans-Tasman bubble, about 42% of the tourism market shut out of the country, and no clear strategy for opening the borders by Labour, the industry is facing an uncertain future.
Unlike Labour, National has a comprehensive plan to keep our borders safe and secure, so that we can eventually allow international visitors to return, while safeguarding the health of New Zealanders.
It is clear that Covid-19 is going to be with us for a long time so we need to start planning around how we can introduce skilled and essential workers, international students and tourists in a safe way that will not put the health of New Zealanders at risk.
National’s smart border plan will investigate streamlined travel arrangements for low-risk countries and territories, and scale-up managed isolation capacity by allowing private accommodation providers to become approved service providers.
Given flexible arrangements were offered in the Government’s negotiations for rugby tests between the All Blacks and Australia, these options should also be considered for Pacific countries that do not have Covid-19.
Our plan will include developing a long-term solution for safe re-entry by bringing private accommodation providers into the Government-controlled managed isolation network. All private facilities will have to meet or exceed required levels of safety, security, reporting, transporting, training and testing, as well as meet the associated costs.
While better, more efficient border management will ensure international tourists can return to New Zealand in time, there is still the obvious short-term issues, we need to ensure there’s a tourism sector for international visitors to return to.
The Government has so far failed in its support for the tourism sector and its policy for funding tourism assets wasn’t transparent or fair.
Rather than providing a clear plan to support the whole sector, the Government delivered cash handouts to a tiny minority of companies and little to no support for the overwhelming majority of tourism providers. We back the calls for this process to be reviewed.
It is crucial we provide targeted support to the sector to keep people in jobs and help restart the New Zealand economy.
Importantly, we will reduce taxes for all New Zealanders. National will deliver a temporary tax relief package that will put more than $3000, or nearly $50 a week, into the back pockets of average earners over the next 16 months.
Putting more money in the pockets of Kiwis is the single easiest way to give them more confidence to spend that money in areas like tourism, accommodation, and hospitality.
We will also fund TRENZ, our most significant international trade and travel event, for the next two years. It’s important the industry is supported to work together and develop their own strategies alongside Government so we can save jobs and restore the tourism sector.
National knows tourism is a cornerstone of our economy. We will work with the sector and develop strategies to rebuild the industry back to the thriving and growing sector it once was.
National will release our tourism policy soon, it will outline how we plan to support the sector today as you come to terms with Covid and the consequences of the Government’s two lockdowns. It will also deal with the longer term challenges of a vibrant tourism sector when international tourists return.
21 Oct 2020 Wednesday Letter: It’s time for a change