The main political parties are saying that they are here for tourism businesses, but are they answering the bigger, tougher questions?
Have the main political parties shared their vision for the future of New Zealand's tourism when the borders (hopefully) reopen during the next Government term?
Many overseas destinations are already resetting their tourism strategies. For example, central European cities are discussing whether they want to welcome back English stag parties, which are notorious for messing up their city centres.
The Caribbean is also questioning whether all the infrastructure to support cruise ships is providing positive net returns for the local economy with some cruise companies telling their investors that 80 per cent of their passenger's discretionary spend is made onboard the ship.
In New Zealand, most regions are struggling to provide enough infrastructure to handle the peak season of tourists. As the pandemic paused international tourism, can we afford to go back to how it was?
Firstly, let's look at the problem through the eyes of the tourist. It is likely they will want to avoid large crowds of multi-national tourists as this increases the risk of exposure to the virus.
They are also becoming increasingly tech-savvy and impatient. They are less likely to waste their travel time standing in lines or going to places where they will be packed in like sardines with busloads of other tourists.
Even before Covid-19, many tourists were seeking places that were marketed as untouched, unspoiled and off the beaten path.
The ability to prove to our visitors that there won't be queues of buses at key destinations could be a strength of ours.
Imagine visiting the Louvre Museum in Paris to see the Mona Lisa knowing there will be no lines because you have a scheduled time. You can do other things around Paris while you wait for your time slot.
We could do this for tourists visiting New Zealand during our peak summer season. They could book their time to visit our key destinations when they booked their flights, accommodation, and restaurants at the same point of purchase.
Having an integrated booking system that shows our availability across attractions, activities and transport will set us apart from other countries that do not indicate how busy the main destinations will be at the time of travel.
Our tourism industry is seasonal as many regions in the North Island are flooded with tourists in summer and are quiet in winter. We need to create incentives to better manage these peaks and troughs, spreading visitor spending throughout the year and providing a quality experience for our visitors.
For example, should backpackers and freedom campers be incentivised to visit New Zealand during the quieter months as it could be cheaper, less rushed and less crowded?
A visitor can then get the most of their time in New Zealand knowing they have a scheduled time at a key destination - meaning no queues - and they can experience more of New Zealand.
The Government's goal should be to ensure we get a positive return on investment from our tourism infrastructure. Spreading more visitors throughout the year could provide better customer experiences. Tourism businesses can maintain a consistent labour force throughout the year.
The integrated booking system could also prioritise the type of tourists who spend the most in our communities.
Closing our borders for Covid-19 proved how important tourism is to our local economy. But international tourism will likely be very different after the world's COVID-19 border restrictions ease.
- Matt Cowley is the chief executive of Tauranga Chamber of Commerce.