The Prime Minister needs to listen to the tourism industry and appoint an Associate Minister for Tourism to ensure the Government is doing all it can to support New Zealand’s biggest export earner, National’s Tourism spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“It is obvious that the sector doesn’t have confidence in the current minister and Jacinda Ardern should heed their calls. Tourism is too important to New Zealand to be assigned just a part-time minister juggling other portfolios.

“Tourists spend $107 million a day across New Zealand, or about $39 billion a year, and tourism, directly and indirectly, accounts for almost one in seven jobs. The record influx of visitors has put pressure on our tourism infrastructure like never before.

“The Government has chosen to ignore the pleas of the tourism industry that its size and importance warrants an associate to support Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis. Tourism is one of New Zealand’s growth engines – spending by tourists has surged 44 per cent in the past five years and the sector now makes up more than 10 per cent of the economy.

“Mr Davis promised millions of dollars towards fixing overcrowding and increased demand at our most popular destinations for summer yet many are again overwhelmed by visitors.

“The last National Government introduced the Tourism Infrastructure Fund and a $76 million package to alleviate pressure off our scenic hotspots for Kiwis. While so far the only suggestion from the Minister in the past year has been five new working groups.

“The Minister also promised that regions would see some of the funding generated from this Government’s Tourist tax. Yet the lack of prioritisation and action from the Minister means that regions will not see any funding till late 2020.

“While Mr Davis may think that a new tax on visitors, working groups and reviews is a substantial tourism strategy, the standstill in our scenic hotspots show that the regions are calling out for real leadership and a proper, detailed plan from this Government.”

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