John Key's inattention to the tourism sector has left it flat lining says Labour's Tourism spokesperson Rino Tirikatene.
"Figures out today reaffirm that while tourist numbers are up, our visitors aren't spending," Rino Tirikatene said.
The International Visitor Survey, released by the Ministry of Economic Development, reveals tourist spending was flat at $5.6 billion for the year ending June 2012, despite a five percent increase in visitor numbers to 2.6 million.
"Part of this can be attributed to the number of Kiwis who are coming home from Australia for some whanau time and homemade kai," Rino Tirikatene said.
"These aren't tourists with money to burn. They are New Zealanders visiting on the cheap, not for a big spend-up in Rotorua or Queenstown.
"The Ministry's own Tourism Research and Evaluation Manager, Peter Ellis, today conceded that if it wasn't for the Rugby World Cup 'we would have seen a decrease in total visitor spend of well over $200 million.'
"Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry for New Zealand. We cannot let it languish.
"Today's figures add to a chorus of concern within the sector. The bottom line is that tourism is not where it needs to be. We can applaud the gains made with markets like China, but overall the industry is suffering.
"John Key gave himself the tourism portfolio as a matter of priority. Unfortunately he hasn't made it one," Rino Tirikatene said.
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