Whanganui & Partners is welcoming a new central Government strategy on tourism.
The New Zealand-Aotearoa Government Tourism Strategy was launched in Wellington on Thursday by Minister of Tourism Kelvin Davis and Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage.
It focuses on the Government having a more active and deliberate role in the sector, along with a work programme designed to ensure growth in the sector is managed effectively, and that the benefits are shared more widely.
Initial priorities for the work programme over the next year include co-ordination across the tourism system, long-term sustainable funding methods, destination management and planning, and improved data and insight.
"Tourism is a vital part of New Zealand's ongoing success, supporting national and regional economies, creating jobs and allowing us to celebrate who we are. We must ensure that we're set up to continue enjoying these benefits, while better managing the challenges that growth can bring," Davis said.
"We know that we'll have better tourism outcomes by working closely with the tourism and conservation sectors, and building stronger partnerships with Maori, iwi, hapu and tangata whenua. We look forward to working together with the industry to achieve our goals," Davis said.
Sage said natural and cultural heritage is at the core of New Zealand's tourism industry.
"We must build a sustainable visitor industry that protects and cherishes this heritage for future generations," she said.
"Tourism can be a champion for the restoration of the natural environment, and show other industries and sectors how it can be done."
Mayor Hamish McDouall and Whanganui & Partners visitor industries strategic lead Paul Chaplow submitted on behalf of Whanganui during the strategy's consultation period.
"The new tourism strategy is a positive step for tourism in New Zealand. It focuses on sustainable growth and provides a more holistic approach to tourism growth and management through linking government departments, regional tourism organisations, operators and Tourism NZ," Chaplow said.
"Regional dispersal and a sustained effort to move tourists into the regions will support a stronger tourism economy for Whanganui and supporting iwi to develop Maori tourism experiences will be of real benefit."
Whanganui has seen steady growth in tourism spending, which has increased from $90 million in 2015, to $133m for the current 2019 period.
"There is no doubt that Whanganui is a great place to visit and explore. We have a wonderful setting with the city, river and sea - heritage buildings and arts. The thing we require is more tourism experiences. Tourists want to spend money to have memorable experiences, we simply don't have much for them to spend money on, so they move on after a day or two."
Chaplow said there could be an opportunity to promote the Whanganui River which would be a game-changer for the region.
"The legal personhood of the river is a world first and has gained international interest, but as yet there is no opportunity for tourists to learn and understand about this when they visit. I want to see a cultural hub that holds the history and the stories around the river and te awa tupua process."
The tourism strategy comes as the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) released its national tourism forecasts for the period of 2019 to 2025.
The forecast shows total international spend is expected to grow to $15 billion in 2025, up 34 per cent from 2018.
Visitor arrivals are expected to increase 4 per cent each year, reaching 5.1 million visitors in 2025, up from 3.9 million visitors in 2018.