Hoteliers gathered in Auckland this week for the annual New Zealand Hotel Industry Conference. The event, which took place at Cordis on Symonds Street, saw general managers, owners, and operators, as well as industry experts and even former PM Sir John Key, gather for talks, panels, and presentations on everything from brand image to emerging technologies. But there was one message which rang clear throughout proceedings, as senior industry figures across the board urged the Labour government not to thwart New Zealand's thriving tourist industry through extensive taxation.
Panellists Craig Binney (Scenic Hotels Group), Les Morgan (Sudima Hotels and Hind Management), Ryan Sanders (Haka Tourism Group), and Bruce Sheppard (Gilligan Sheppard) all raised concerns over the tourist levy, to be implemented in October, which will see tourists paying $35 towards conservation efforts, as well as a $9-$12 Electronic Travel Authority. Kevin O'Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer of the New Zealand Cruise Association, made it clear that, though the extra charge is not much, New Zealand is already an expensive and far-off destination for many of the world's travellers, and the government should be careful not to frighten them off.
Stephen England-Hall, Chief Executive of Tourism New Zealand, introduced the company's new "100% Pure" marketing campaign, which will see the launch of 365 films showcasing Kiwis the length and breadth of Aotearoa. The videos will be tailored to specific international audiences to encourage them to visit, with viewers in Europe and the USA receiving more promotional material oriented around New Zealand's world-class scenery and outdoor activities, as opposed to a more culturally-oriented marketing campaign for Asian tourists. England-Hall discouraged the often disparaging attitude of Kiwis and Kiwi government towards the tourism industry, pointing out that it employs 1 in 7 workers in New Zealand, and that tourism is the country's largest export sector by a significant margin.