Coronavirus: Government announces planning for 'future of tourism'

Coronavirus: NZ Government announces planing for 'future of tourism'.
Tourists enjoying whale watching in Kaikoura. Photo credit: Getty (file)

The Government says plans are actively being formulated to resuscitate Aotearoa's tourism industry, which has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis said in a media release on Wednesday that industry leaders and the Government were working together on a post-coronavirus plan.

Davis said he has asked Tourism New Zealand to work with the MBIE, the Department of Conservation and industry stakeholders to "reimagine" the future of tourism, how marketing is done both domestically and internationally, and how visitors are managed when they arrive.

He also indicated the plan around the $35 per person international tourist levy introduced last year is to be reviewed.

"We have an opportunity to rethink the entire way we approach tourism to ensure that it will make New Zealand a more sustainable place, enrich the lives of all our people and deliver a sector which is financially self-sustaining in the longer term," said Davis.

"Given international travel is likely to be heavily restricted for some time, and features of our tourism industry such as cruise ships are currently banned, this will need to be a phased approach, looking at how we can focus on and promote domestic tourism in the short term and how we can target an international offering. 

"I expect to receive advice on this work in the next couple of weeks."

The International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) investment plan introduced in 2019 was "prepared at a different time, for a different future", said Davis. It's now being reviewed by Davis and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage.

Tourism Industry Association chief executive Chris Roberts joined the Epidemic Response Committee on Wednesday and said he expects the industry to lose around 100,000 jobs.

Roberts also pleaded for further cutbacks in Government taxes on the tourism industry to help it get back on its feet.

"We need to be sitting at the table," Roberts said, insisting the private sector be involved with the Government's plans.

Tourism New Zealand's chief executive Stephen England-Hall was also quoted in the release from David, saying the industry has "an opportunity to listen to communities and design the future of tourism in New Zealand so that it benefits our people and our home".

"We'll be working with key partners to ask questions, listen, and create something we can all be proud of, something that genuinely gives back more than it takes to Aotearoa and plays a key role in our economic success," England-Hall said.