Friday, August 29, 2008

Air NZ Requests Further Corporate Welfare

Please sir, can we have some more... public money?

Not content with the public's forced capital injection and ownership, Air New Zealand has requested that the public further subsidise its marketing programme.

28 August 2008

Air New Zealand is calling on the government to increase its commitment to tourism in the face of softening global demand and travellers’ growing environmental consciousness.

Air New Zealand Deputy CEO Norm Thompson says it is critical that the New Zealand government acts now to protect the country’s market share given the slowing growth in tourism.

Visitor arrivals to New Zealand have grown less than 1% in the past 12 months and are forecast to grow at just over 3.3% through to 2014.

Mr Thompson says the government needs to prioritise the sector and ramp up the funding to market New Zealand offshore.

The $73 million in annual government funding to Tourism New Zealand to market New Zealand as a visitor destination overseas is not enough to stimulate growth beyond the forecast figures, he says.

“Tourism generates approximately $8.3 billion dollars in foreign exchange for New Zealand – a substantial return on each dollar invested by the government through Tourism New Zealand and businesses such as Air New Zealand. We have the opportunity to significantly increase these earnings through greater Government investment in the industry.”

Mr Thompson says Air New Zealand invests tens of millions of dollars promoting New Zealand offshore and in recent years has taken a leadership position in opening up new tourism opportunities, launching direct services into Adelaide, San Francisco, Shanghai, Vancouver and Beijing, and doubling its capacity to London through its Hong Kong service.

“The industry needs additional government funding to boost New Zealand’s profile in key offshore markets, expand the scope of promotional activities and focus on new emerging markets.”

Mr Thompson says the tourism industry is critical to New Zealand’s economic prosperity and transformation. As the single largest exporter in the New Zealand economy, it contributes 9% of our GDP and employs one in ten Kiwis. As the national carrier, Air New Zealand’s fortunes are inextricably connected to the growth of the tourism sector

Air New Zealand is receiving world-wide recognition of its commitment to reducing its environmental impact, and Mr Thompson says there should be a heavy focus on promoting New Zealand’s environmental initiatives and commitments.

“New Zealand provides a unique destination based on our diverse environment and clean green image. Our attractiveness as a tourist destination can only last as long as our reputation as one of the most environmentally friendly nations stays intact. We need a coordinated national approach to the environment that enhances our 100% Pure positioning and delivers on our visitors' expectations of one of the cleanest, greenest countries in the world,” he says.

“If New Zealand Inc is to continue to prosper, to grow our exports, to encourage investment in New Zealand, and to raise our position in the OECD rankings, then it is vital that we continue to market ourselves successfully to the world.”

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