Budget 2020 makes promises for Māori tourism

By Jessica Tyson

The New Zealand tourism industry, which has arguably been the hardest hit by the impact of COVID-19, is to benefit from a major funding injection announced by Government today.

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis says a $400 million Tourism Recovery Fund will assist the industry, which includes a $10mil contingency fund for New Zealand Māori Tourism to repurpose and reposition the Māori tourism sector.

Davis says the fund will work alongside the extension of the Wage Subsidy Scheme and a domestic tourism campaign.

“This targeted package will go over and above the Government’s broad-based support of businesses and workers, and reflects the importance of tourism to Aotearoa, our economy and our people,” Davis says.

NZ Māori Tourism

Chief of New Zealand Māori Tourism Pania Tyson-Nathan welcomes the funding.

She says the Māori Tourism industry, which employs around 14,000 people across the country and includes some of the country’s most iconic and globally renowned Tourism attractions, has been hard hit by the closure of international borders and domestic lockdown measures to control the spread of Covid-19.

“Tourism operators will be relieved at the extended wage subsidy, a new contingency fund and a strategic assets programme announced in Budget 2020, which recognises the long road ahead for many thousands of businesses and people who work in the sector.”

She says the arrival of Level 2 today marks the beginning of the recovery as businesses like Rotorua’s Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland reopen their doors for local visitors.

“We’re pleased the Government has recognised this and acted to alleviate some of the worst impacts on tourism businesses and their staff, just as the doors start to reopen.”


Whale Watch Kaikoura back to survival mode due to COVID-19 /Tapatahi, May 8

Māori tourism businesses

Whale Watch Kaikoura is one of the Māori-owned businesses which has gone back to survival mode due to the lack of tourism caused by COVID-19.

General manager Kauahi Ngapora says the business usually has around 800 customers but that number has gone down to zero.

“COVID has definitely put us on the back foot again and I guess it’s been crisis after crisis.”

He says domestic tourism only makes up around is about 20 per cent of those coming through the door, the other 80 percent are from people overseas.

“Domestic will never replace the international market."

Just last week he appeared on Tapatahi and said he would like the government to engage directly with communities and businesses to help them recover from the crisis.

“We’ve got a view that a one size fits all approach to supporting regions and businesses is not really going to work. What might work in a big city is not going to work in rural communities such as Kaikoura.”’

Ngāi Tahu's tourism workforce drops significantly / Te Ao, May 6

Tyson-Nathan also welcomed the establishment of the Tourism Recovery Ministers Group and Tourism Futures Taskforce to guide the sector’s recovery and the pivot to domestic tourism which contributes 60 percent of the sector’s revenue.

She urged the Taskforce and Ministers to address the burden of cumulative compliance costs on businesses already under pressure.

“Even a short-term reprieve on these costs would go a long way to help operators to keep their doors open in the tough times ahead, while also enabling them to improve productivity.”

Davis says the package is designed to help the tourism sector at this point of the recovery journey and as the country moves through our recovery the government will look at what further support in the days to come.