A $6 million cut to national tourism funds is short-sighted and will cost the national economy, says a leading industry body.
CEO of Tourism Industry Aotearoa, Chris Roberts, argues the reduction in Tourism New Zealand funds announced in last week’s budget could damage our ability to compete in a fiercely competitive global market.
Tourism New Zealand’s budget will fall from $117.3m to 111.4m for the coming 12 months.
Minister for tourism Kelvin Davis claims Kiwis would rather see the money spent on social services.
”If we were to ask New Zealanders if we should spend $5.9 million on bringing more visitors to New Zealand or spending on housing, health and education, I’m sure they would say spend it on the latter not the former, ” he said.
The minister said he was confident Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) could still deliver on its targets by reprioritising.
TNZ’s chief executive, Stephen England-Hall, confirmed the budget reduction would be absorbed without the need to exit any markets or sectors.
But Mr Roberts said his organisation was “disappointed” by the cut.
“International travellers have an enormous range of destination choices, and we must be able to maintain and build our presence in our key markets,” he said.
“TNZ is a very effective marketing organisation. Its funding must be seen as an investment, not a cost.
“Reducing your marketing spend when it has proved successful is bad business.
“Destination marketing influences travel decisions next year, the year after and the years after that. Even this small cut could hurt New Zealand’s efforts to retain its share of global tourism.”
The biggest cuts will be to the marketing and promotional budgets, although there will be small funding increases to support TNZ in providing visitor information and for industry engagement.
Mr Roberts said his organisation, which represents members generating around 85 percent of total tourism industry turnover nationally, was pleased at the increase in funding for the Department of Conservation (DOC).
“While we are delighted to see the increased funding for the DOC’s core conservation roles, it is only getting $1 million next year for better visitor management at some of the most popular spots. That’s not going to achieve much,” he said.