It has never been more vital for our industry to provide a strong, united message to the government.Tim Cossar, TIA chief executive Grassroots Hawke's Bay tourist operators' insights were taken on board by the Tourism Industry Association NZ (TIA) roadshow on Tuesday as it prepares to lobby government after the general election.
TIA chief executive Tim Cossar said in troubled times the opinions of members were more important than ever.
"The four-hour roadshows are an opportunity for free and frank discussion around the challenges tourism operators are facing, potential solutions and opportunities, and what actions they see as being the priorities for the new government," he said.
The meeting at the Hawke's Bay Opera House was "a very lively session".
"Last time in Hawke's Bay, the session was disjointed and I think the change is a reflection on the good work done re-establishing the Regional Tourism Organisation. Hawke's Bay seems to be a region on the move again - target markets are really well identified."
He said some of the concerns raised were the role of local government, alcohol law reform, confusion over employment law changes and the burden of bureaucracy.
Issues raised would be collected and assimilated with 10 other regions and discussed further by the chief executives of New Zealand's biggest tourism companies. TIA would then report key priorities to a political summit in Wellington attended by political leaders including Prime Minister John Key, who was also Minister of Tourism.
"It has never been more vital for our industry to provide a strong, united message to the Government about our goals and priorities for boosting New Zealand's economic performance," Mr Cossar said.
The tourism industry was New Zealand's biggest foreign exchange earner, worth $9.2 billion annually and providing one in 10 jobs across the country.
"We want to ensure our industry capitalises on the opportunities offered in 2011, including Rugby World Cup, the filming of The Hobbit movies and the introduction of new air links with some of our fastest growing visitor markets."
Hawke's Bay association members had reported that the latest trend in New Zealand tourism had not yet filtered through, with few experiencing Chinese visitors.
"Nationally, there is a big shift in the market but we need to consider what will our customers of the future be like. How do we prepare for them and still keep the domestic market burning?"