Tourism infrastructure, supporting the regions and growing Māori tourism are the industry priorities for the new government, says Minister of Tourism Kelvin Davis.
Speaking this morning at the Tourism Summit Aotearoa in Wellington – the minister’s first address to industry – Davis said he wanted to tackle industry issues ranging from investing in regional growth to protecting the environment.
The rapid recent growth and predicted visitor increases in tourism had seen “shortfalls in services emerge in some locations – regions need improved tourism infrastructure,” Davis told an audience of around 250.
He would be talking to his colleague Shane Jones, the minister in charge of the $1bn annual Regional Development Fund, to source funding for tourism infrastructure.
A border levy was another way of raising finance for infrastructure and conservation and Davis would also look at a range of other options for funding.
Supporting the regions was also a priority to help spread the benefits of growing tourism more widely. Visitors would continue to be encouraged to explore further afield although NZ’s iconic attractions and destinations would not be neglected, said Davis.
Growing the Māori tourism sector would also be a focus for the new minister.
“Māori identity is an integral part of NZ. I think there is immense opportunity to continue to develop businesses around our culture and stories,” he said.
As Minister for Crown/Māori Relations, a newly-created role designed to manage the government’s ongoing relationship with iwi post-Treaty of Waitangi settlement, he wanted to work with iwi keen to enter the tourism market.
Māori culture was an important asset for the sector and Davis said he would work with NZ Māori Tourism to encourage its growth.
“The question is, how do we further promote and nurture these mutual benefits?” said Davis.
He would also help address many of the issues such as freedom camping and hotel development affecting the industry.
“I want to be a minister that listens to the people in the industry and finds out what needs to be done to make sure that we can keep growing in a sustainable way,” said Davis.
“We will do everything we can to ensure that tourism remains the jewel in NZ’s crown.”