Monday, December 8, 2008

Strategy sought for tourism firms

Tim Cossar, head of Tourism Industry Association (TIA) will give the first official briefing to the Ministry of Tourism this week.

With the background of global recession, Cossar will be demanding up to 38% more public funding for Tourism .

It will be interesting how John Key via Associate Tourism Minister Jonathan Coleman will deliver Cossar a dose of economic reality.

December 08, 2008
New Zealand Herald
By Tamsyn Parker

The Government will meet tourism industry representatives this week to assess the impact of the global recession on tourism and work out a strategy on how best to help struggling New Zealand businesses.
The Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Industry Association are to give their first official briefings to Associate Tourism Minister Jonathan Coleman on Thursday.

Prime Minister John Key, the Tourism Minister, is not expected to attend the meeting.

Coleman, who also stood in for Key at last week's in-bound tour operators meeting, said the briefing was designed to try to predict the effects of the recession and learn what the industry saw as priorities for helping the sector.

"From this [we] hope to come up with a common view on what is likely to happen as a result of the current economic situation. "This will be important for the Government. If we need to take short-term action to help various sectors, it is much easier if we know that there is general agreement on what needs to be done," he said.

Coleman said these were difficult times in the world's economy and as discretionary spending tightened for individuals, inbound tourism operators may feel vulnerable.

Association head Tim Cossar told the Herald last week the Government wanted the industry to come up with solutions rather than just presenting the problems.

Cossar said the biggest worry was that New Zealand would lose its market share of tourism visitors."New Zealand tourism operators do not want to see New Zealand lose share of market voice overseas. It's critical that we don't." Of particular concern were the UK and US markets, New Zealand's second and third largest tourism markets.

Cossar said Australia, our largest tourism market, would be the key to keeping business ticking over in the next one to two years. "We have really got to make [Australia] work for us in the next one to two years. We just can't afford to be behind the eight-ball."

Cossar also called for the promotion of domestic tourism to be ramped up.

Central government presently does not give any money to regions to promote themselves within New Zealand. Regions must rely on local ratepayers and councils to fund their marketing.

He hoped a further $20 million to $30 million would be added to the tourism marketing budget of Tourism New Zealand, which currently spends $79 million a year.

The forecasts are unlikely to bring good news for the new Government.

In July the Ministry of Tourism released its annual growth predictions for the next seven years.
It had expected growth of 1.2 per cent in visitor numbers for this year and an average of 3.3 per cent growth for the next seven years.

But Statistics New Zealand figures show for the year to October visitor numbers are already down 0.2 per cent.

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation is predicting growth will be between zero and 2 per cent next year, down from recent averages of 6 per cent per year.

Tourism is a major contributor to New Zealand's economy, with visitors spending around $20 billion a year in New Zealand.

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