A $105 million plan to rebuild tourism has been both questioned and praised by those in the industry.
The policy was unveiled yesterday
at Secret Spot Hot Tubs in Rotorua by National leader Judith Collins and tourism spokesman and Rotorua MP Todd McClay.
It was developed to work collaboratively with local government, iwi, and tourism sector representatives as well as tourism businesses.
The plan included a $100m Tourism Accelerator Fund, travel bubbles with Covid-free countries when safe, and a national framework for freedom camping,
They would also use the Infrastructure Bank to build new infrastructure needed to cope with tourism numbers, enhance the collection of accommodation and tourism data, and support the Trenz conference with $5m for the next two years.
National's Māori Tourism spokeswoman, Harete Hipango, said the plan would support and build capability for Māori tourism.
But Te Tatau o Te Arawa chairman Te Taru White questioned whether the proposed $100m fund was enough.
"It's one thing offering it, it's another thing applying it."
White said Trenz had "a serious role to play" in the future of tourism, but being traditionally focused on international exchanges, he wondered if this proposed funding was "misplaced" and better spent with the likes of Tourism Industry Aotearoa.
In his opinion, Māori tourism had an "important role to play" in future international tourism as well as the current domestic tourism situation.
"Let's be frank, while we live in this country, there's still a lot to be learned about Māori."
Ngāi Te Rangi chief executive Paora Stanley said the strengths of National's policy were the long-term focus, and recognition of high-value Māori tourism.
He said the party needed to acknowledge travel bubbles would be determined by the overall response to the virus in New Zealand and overseas.
Stanley said the future of tourism in New Zealand needed "to be built from the ground up with experienced people" and destinations like Tauranga needed better-quality hotels.
Secret Spot Hot Tubs co-founder Eric Kolver said the party's policy was "a practical plan" but the priority for his business was "good border control".
"That's just got to be bulletproof ... to give people confidence to move around."
Hennessy's Irish Bar owner and Hospitality New Zealand Bay of Plenty president, Reg Hennessy said strong initiatives like this were needed to save businesses and give staff and the community a strong, confident and positive future.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said neither major party was showing how they would manage the peak demand to make the industry less seasonal.
He said the Bay of Plenty needed infrastructure support from the Government as seasonal tourism peaks put a demand on local council facilities.
"Encouraging tourists to visit during the quieter season would make local tourism businesses more viable year-round."
He said it was good news freedom camping would be guided by a nationwide framework and he was pleased both major parties were willing to open the travel bubble.
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said the use of the Infrastructure Bank had a lot of potential for the city and more information was needed on where the accelerator fund would go.
He said a travel bubble would offer "a heck of a boom" and could more-than-compensate for the lost tourism for the next few years.
He said what needed to be discussed was direct, daily flights between Rotorua and Queenstown, as well as the other major centres.
Tourism Bay of Plenty head of destination marketing Kath Low said prior to the pandemic, tourism contributed more than $1 billion to the Coastal Bay of Plenty economy.
"Tourism will be a critical component of our nation's economic recovery.
"Partnerships across both private and public sectors, including central and local government, will be critical to the rebuild of the tourism industry."
She said there was a need for insightful data to help with planning and the rebuild of the tourism industry post-Covid.
A Destination Rotorua spokeswoman said they could not comment on any party's pre-election policy announcements.
Labour's Tourism Minister, Kelvin Davis, said he believed the policy did nothing to protect jobs or businesses in tourism.
"Right from the early stages of the pandemic, Labour has been doing what it takes to cushion the blow, support businesses and workers, and position the economy for recovery."
He said the $400m Tourism Recovery Package delivered by Labour would protect, support, and lay the foundation for tourism to recover.
"We know further investment will be required once border restrictions begin to lift."
Under National's scheme, tourism operators would be eligible to apply for up to 70 per cent of the funding for projects that meet the criteria of increasing demand within the tourism sector.
The Infrastructure Bank would sit alongside its $100m Tourism Accelerator Fund to focus on regional projects and help them find financing.
Under the accelerator fund, tourism operators would be eligible to apply for up to 70 per cent of funding for projects which increase demand in the tourism sector.
The minimum co-investment expected from the private sector would be 30 per cent.
McClay said closing the border cut off the international visitor market worth more than $23b last year and subsequent local lockdowns "devastated" the industry.
He believed Labour had so far delivered a "patchwork response" instead of a comprehensive plan to save jobs.
National is also offering the sector a New Zealand Tourism Festival modelled off the REAL New Zealand Festival that ran over Rugby World Cup 2011, and involved more than 1200 home-grown events in 86 towns and centres nationwide.
"National will do it again at a bigger scale to assist the recovery of the tourism industry and regional economies," Collins said.
If elected, National would work with the Lotteries Commission, Tourism New Zealand and industry bodies to progress a programme of events and funding for this event to be held next year.
• Use the Infrastructure Bank to work alongside local councils to build the new infrastructure needed to cope with tourism numbers across regional New Zealand
• Provide support to businesses and tourist operators through a $100m Tourism Accelerator Fund.
• Allow travel bubbles with neighbouring Covid-free countries when safe to do so.
• Implement a consistent and transparent national framework for freedom camping.
• Support the Trenz conference with $5m for the next two years and enhance the collection of accommodation and tourism data
- Additional reporting Amelia Wade