New Zealand impresses
Last month I had the pleasure of meeting the New Zealand Prime Minister, The Rt Hon John Key as I attended a small gathering of Australian travel industry people to discuss a range of important topics impacting the tourism industry in New Zealand and in particular, from an outbound perspective from Australia. As I am sure readers would know the Prime Minister of New Zealand is also the Tourism Minister. Such is the importance of travel and tourism to New Zealand that responsibility for its success and future sits with the PM. John Key is an impressive person, even with the fact that he has been a politician since 2002, some 14 years. As Prime Minister he won three elections in 2008, 2011 and in 2014 and for the most part has kept New Zealand humming along even in the face of global financial difficulties and their own natural disasters including the Christchurch earthquake back in 2011. What was also incredibly impressive was that as a nation’s leader he was interested and engaged enough to sit down with just a few Australian travel industry folk and really talk about the issues and challenges that we face and how things look in the future. It was a two-way exchange and I definitely made the point that any governments who think taxing tourists or clipping the ticket as tourists arrive and depart by way of a passenger movement charge or border charge is unwelcome to the industry at large, particularly when we are dealing with such small margins. Some of the emerging distribution models referred to as the sharing economy were discussed and it is clear that this is a global phenomenon, not a local one. I don’t think there is an easy fix for this, if at all. Time will tell what governments of all persuasions decided to do about the sharing economy. One thing is for sure, reasonable attribution of taxation to offshore companies is something that needs to be addressed by governments. It will be interesting to see how it gets addressed over the years ahead both in Australian and New Zealand. So by way of quick summary, the New Zealand people have definitely got themselves one hell of a Prime Minister who is engaged in real issues and keen to facilitate sensible debate to solve problems for the good of all. On a final unrelated note, news of the conviction of Jordan Dittloff is indeed the first of what I am sure will be several more to follow. In the end the travel agent pleaded guilty of stealing $277,993 from 47 different clients and will face jail for his actions. This is a strong message to any person thinking that they can get away with stealing by masquerading as a travel agent. Clearly the new de-regulated environment has the backing of the police who have pursued this case and got their man.
Such is the importance of travel and tourism to NZ that responsibility for its success and future PM’ sits with the