Sus­tain­abil­ity pri­or­ity in tourism


Tourism Min­is­ter Kelvin Davis has thrown his sup­port be­hind a push for more sus­tain­able tourism, and promised govern­ment fund­ing to im­prove the sec­tor’s in­fra­struc­ture.

Davis made his first ma­jor min­is­te­rial speech at the Tourism Sum­mit in Welling­ton, an an­nual event that sets pri­or­i­ties for reach­ing the in­dus­try goal of earn­ing $41 bil­lion a year by 2025.

In list­ing his pri­or­i­ties, Davis said he also saw tourism as an op­por­tu­nity for Ma¯ori to de­velop busi­nesses based on their his­tory and cul­ture.

The Govern­ment would look at fund­ing for the De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion and lo­cal govern­ment, but it was es­sen­tial any fund­ing changes pro­vided ‘‘the best bang for our buck’’.

Al­though pa­ram­e­ters for the $1b re­gional growth fund an­nounced by the new Govern­ment were still be­ing worked through, this was an­other av­enue for sup­port­ing tourism in­fra­struc­ture.

Davis said that if in­dus­try was to reach its $41b goal it needed to ad­dress the chal­lenges of growth, and it was es­sen­tial that this oc­curred in so­cially and en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able ways.

That in­cluded de­cent jobs pay­ing higher wages, pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and ad­dress­ing cli­mate change. He ap­plauded in­dus­try body Tourism In­dus­try Aotearoa’s launch of sus­tain­abil­ity goals.

Tourism In­dus­try Aotearoa (TIA) chief ex­ec­u­tive Chris Roberts said the fo­cus on sus­tain­abil­ity was de­signed to en­sure tourists had a great ex­pe­ri­ence, with­out their pres­ence hav­ing an ad­verse ef­fect on lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and the en­vi­ron­ment.

TIA had set eight sus­tain­abil­ity goals, rang­ing from keep­ing New Zealan­ders happy with the level of tourism ac­tiv­ity, to en­sur­ing tourism em­ploy­ers paid fair wages to all their staff.

‘‘We want a New Zealand where our econ­omy, peo­ple and the en­vi­ron­ment are bet­ter off be­cause tourism ex­ists,’’ he said.

In a panel dis­cus­sion on sus­tain­abil­ity at the sum­mit, low wages were iden­ti­fied as a key is­sue.

Nga¯i Tahu Tourism has 11 busi­nesses and is mov­ing to­wards in­tro­duc­ing the liv­ing wage for its em­ploy­ees.

Deputy Kai­whaka­haere for Te Ru­nanga o Nga¯i Tahu Lisa Tuma­hai said they had asked their com­pa­nies to come up with a tran­si­tion plan.

But she said the dif­fi­culty was with joint ven­tures where they could ask, but not com­pel, pay­ment of the liv­ing wage.

Real Jour­neys chief ex­ec­u­tive Richard Lauder said he was ap­palled at the way some tourism op­er­a­tors were ex­ploit­ing their staff.

He said there had been a lot of de­bate as to whether the sus­tain­abil­ity pledge should in­clude a com­mit­ment to pay­ing a liv­ing wage. The feel­ing was it was go­ing ‘‘too far, too fast,’’ but he be­lieved the in­dus­try would ‘‘get there’’.

The writer at­tended the Tourism Sum­mit with as­sis­tance from Tourism In­dus­try Aotearoa.

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