Tourism Minister ‘surprised to learn’ that more than half of regional tourism organizations do not have a management plan

More than half of New Zealand’s 31 regional tourism organizations do not have destination management plans, two years after the government gave them funding to develop them.

The revelation was made by Tourism Minister Stuart Nash in a speech at the University of Otago School of Tourism, where he outlined his priorities for the tourism industry, just weeks before the reopening of the New Zealand border to international tourists.

Nash said regional tourism organizations (RTOs) were given $47 million to develop the destination management plans, and he was “surprised to learn” that less than half had completed them.

RTOs are required to work alongside industry representatives, community groups, iwi, councils and others on destination management plans on how they propose to work together to manage visitors and prioritize regenerative practices.

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“I urge RTOs to complete these plans as soon as possible, for the good of all of us,” Nash said.

Before Covid-19, tourism was New Zealand’s biggest export industry, bringing in $40.9 billion to the country a year and directly employing more than 200,000 people.

On Wednesday, Tourism Minister Stuart Nash wore a New York Giants jacket at an Air New Zealand event advertising its long-haul flights to New York.

Chris McKeen / Stuff

On Wednesday, Tourism Minister Stuart Nash wore a New York Giants jacket at an Air New Zealand event advertising its long-haul flights to New York.

The reconnection with Australia from 11.59am on April 12 was huge for the industry as it was New Zealand’s largest visitor market, accounting for nearly 40% of all international arrivals, it said. -he declares.

Covid-19 has changed the world, and tourism could not be expected to remain unchanged, he said.

“We are unlikely to see an immediate return to 2019 levels, but we shouldn’t want that either – it was unsustainable and some of our communities were bearing the brunt of it.”

He said he wanted New Zealand to attract tourists who are interested in the environment and want to engage with New Zealand culture.

“We want people who think outside the box, seek out new experiences and think about how they interact with our land and our communities.”

During the pandemic, the tourism sector had received billions of dollars in government support, both generalized like the wage subsidy, and targeted.

Tourism operators need to do things differently in the future for the environment and staff, he said.

“Tourism in 2022 and beyond must seek to transform itself into a type of industry where workers don’t just get by; they thrive.

A tourism industry transformation plan program has been put in place to achieve a better way of working for the tourism industry, he said.

“It’s about tackling systemic labor issues – better wages and better conditions for workers.”

Fluctuations in demand meant many tourism workers were either underutilized or overworked, he said.

Wages and conditions in the industry were a barrier to attracting and retaining staff and small businesses often lacked the expertise to provide workers with a rewarding, safe and secure work environment, he said.

“If we don’t make changes and allow the relatively small number of operators to continue poor employment practices, they will continue to damage the reputation of the entire industry.”

A continued “race to the bottom” with low wages and poor conditions would not serve anyone well, he said.

Phase two of the transformation plan, which will begin later this year, will focus on the environmental impact of tourism, he said.

The government has engaged Aotearoa Circle, a partnership of public and private sector leaders, to deliver a climate change adaptation roadmap for industry, he said.

“As well as improving their regeneration credentials, many in the tourism industry will also need to adapt to changing consumer behaviors, such as visitors becoming increasingly aware of their carbon footprint. personal, especially since New Zealand is so far from some of our key markets.”

The government planned to attract “high-value” visitors to New Zealand who were distinct from high net worth, he said.

The “high value” doesn’t exclude backpackers or budget-conscious travellers, he said.

“They will always be welcome and that is why we have moved quickly to reopen working holiday visa applications.”

High-value visitors returned more than they took and traveled across seasons and regions, he said.

They were environmentally conscious and offset carbon emissions, he said.

They were respectful of local communities and cultures, he said.

The $35 International Visitor Conservation and Tourism (IVL) levy was not sustainable in the long term if New Zealand was to offer world-class infrastructure and facilities, he said.

“I continue to watch the IVL, but no immediate changes are expected and no Cabinet decision has been taken.

“As international visitors return, we will not fall back into old habits.”

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