It's time for New Zealand's multi-billion dollar visitor industry to "get its house in order" to achieve its potential, new Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) Chief Executive Martin Snedden says.
Speaking at Local Government New Zealand's annual conference in Queenstown today, Mr Snedden said the visitor industry's challenge was to commit itself unconditionally to taking responsibility for its own future. It needed to work better collectively to find its own solutions to the issues holding it back.
Since taking up his new role a month ago, Mr Snedden had discovered widespread perceptions that the tourism industry was fragmented, parochial and overly demanding of government support, he said.
He cited Auckland Airport Chief Executive Simon Moutter who said in a New Zealand Herald article today that the tourism industry was prone to moaning about problems but slow to offer solutions or develop opportunities.
This was inhibiting the industry from achieving its potential.
Tourism contributed $63 million a day to New Zealand's economy and provided 90,000 jobs. The industry also supported another 90,000 jobs in businesses that provided goods and services to tourism businesses.
"This is money being spent and jobs being provided not just in the big cities but in communities which are scattered throughout New Zealand, often in our most remote areas. And tourism doesn't provide only jobs and money, it also brings vibrancy to our communities," he said.
"Last year's Rugby World Cup was a great example of this. It was fantastic to watch the likes of Palmerston North, Whangarei, Hamilton and even tiny little Benneydale in the King Country galvanise their communities.
"But aside from RWC, visitor-related activities are adding real value to hundreds of communities around the country, every single day. If tourism jobs disappeared from nooks and crannies all over our country, there wouldn't be other industries lining up to replace the lost employment."
Local government was an essential part of tourism's success in New Zealand and Mr Snedden invited councils to take their partnership with the tourism industry to a new level.
A number of councils around the country have recently proposed taxing visitors to raise money, through bed taxes or other charges. Instead of engaging in "localised and fragmented skirmishes", TIA was keen to work at a national level on a centralised and cohesive approach to addressing tourism funding issues, he said.
"I look forward greatly to being part of a tourism sector which harnesses its assets, and enjoys its relationships, not just for our own benefit but for the benefit of our partners and for the benefit of all New Zealand," he said.
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