Tourism industry hails new minister Nash’s stance [RNZ, 17/11/20]

The tourism industry is welcoming its new minister’s plans to ensure ratepayers and taxpayers are not footing the bill left behind by international visitors.

Stuart Nash gave his first speech as Tourism Minister at Tourism Summit Aotearoa at Te Papa in Wellington.

Photo: RNZ / Tess Brunton

Newly-appointed Tourism Minister Stuart Nash revealed to a sold-out crowd at Tourism Summit Aotearoa in Wellington today the four themes he intends to focus on.

They included focusing on sustainability instead of business as usual, more partnerships between government and industry, and strengthening Brand New Zealand.

For tourism leaders, today’s summit was the first opportunity to catch up in person after a disaster of a year.

It was where Tourism Minister Stuart Nash chose to unveil his vision for the industry.

“The question of who pays. New Zealanders should not be subsidising international visitors to the extent that we have done in the recent past. Some of the costs – such as the impact on infrastructure and the environment – are currently shouldered by taxpayers and ratepayers, when they don’t need to be,” Nash said.

The minister outlined a vision where the industry moves away from the likes of freedom campers, saying wealthier tourists would need to be targeted when the borders reopened.

In terms of when that could happen, the minister did not have the magic date the industry has been waiting for. Instead he said the borders would remain closed until it was safe to open them, despite the revenue loss.

“It’s not just the industry that’s looking at a $10 billion hole, it’s actually the whole economy that’s looking at a $10 billion hole,” Nash said.

“There’s a level of resilience in the New Zealand economy that I don’t think Treasury forecast or I don’t think we all believed existed pre-Covid. It is still there. There are a number of businesses that have fallen over, we know that. But it is just a matter of making sure that we do as much as we possibly can in terms of buying local, supporting local businesses.”

Tourism Futures Taskforce co-chair Steve Chadwick started her speech with congratulations for the industry and its new minister.

“What an energy bunny you’ve got as a minister and I think that’s going to be wonderful for us all, and I’m pleased that this is his first speech today and I think he put a bit of a poa in the ground for us all.”

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