Across small and medium size businesses grumpiness is rising at compliance obligations and there's pessimism about revenue outlooks. But there's one sector that is a conspicuous bright light.
A MYOB survey showed 45 per cent of tourism operators believe they're going to be making more money in the next 12 months compared to less than a third across the small business sector as a whole.
A fifth of tourist businesses expect to hire more workers and, in a sector which struggles with perceptions of low pay, a third expect to increase wages.
This more upbeat tone in tourism was clearly on display last week at the industry's main sales event, Trenz in Rotorua, where a record 308 exhibitors showed off what they have to offer to an even greater number of buyers from this country and from overseas.
There were inspiring stories of small family operations succeeding and growing in the regions through to what the big operators such as Tourism Holdings and SkyCity are doing to reduce their environmental impact. The sector is one that attracts natural optimists, and in spite of choppy economic data, those on the floor at Trenz were especially chipper.
The work being done at a high level also gives cause for optimism. The Government unveiled a tourism strategy that very much lines up with what the rest of the industry is doing. Heavy on emphasising environmental, social and economic ''sustainability,'' the pleasingly concise document aligns closely with what Tourism Industry Aotearoa envisages for the sector, our number one export earner.
As an industry leader said, everyone in the sector is paddling the waka in the same direction. There's renewed emphasis on taking New Zealanders, increasingly worried about the impact of too many tourists, on the journey. A Tourism New Zealand campaign to be launched next month will be part of that.
While well-intentioned words are all very well, the Government will later this year have some serious extra money to help deal with an irritants for Kiwis - too few toilets, car parks and not enough being done to ease the impact of tourists in our national parks.
The new border levy will raise an estimated $80 million a year from adult visitors from countries apart from Australia and the Pacific Islands. It will be split between the tourism and conservation portfolios depending on where the need is greatest in any one year.
Tourism industry increases focus on sustainable growth
Slowdown in Chinese tourists all part of the plan - expert
Even the slowdown in growth of overseas visitors is not unduly worrying most operators who are thinking long-term. Rightly, the emphasis is on targeting high value visitors rather than just high volumes of tourists. The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment is forecasting 5.1 million tourists by 2025, a 4 per cent growth rate. This is down from last year's forecast of 4.6 per cent and well down on growth experienced two to three years ago.
This gives tourist businesses the opportunity to consolidate, to build up infrastructure and importantly, attract and train staff. It's been said that a business should never waste a crisis, the same goes for tourism sector's current breather in growth.