NZ Māori Tourism working on plan to revitalise industry

By Bronson Perich

Māori tourism has taken a massive blow due to COVID-19. NZ Māori Tourism are advising Māori operators to expect only half the business that they had last year. NZ Māori Tourism deputy chair Dan Walker explains that a recovery plan is in the works. The $10 million allocated in yesterdays budget will help bring that plan into fruition.

“We are delighted with this (pūtea), that it should it shows confidence. It acknowledges the significant contribution that Māori make to tourism in Aotearoa," Walker says.

The pūtea will be used to reposition and repurpose Māori tourism as it now seeks to hone in on the domestic market.

“Last year, three million New Zealanders traveled overseas, spending between $9-13 billion," Walker says.

"That is a new market for our tourism operators to tap into. We know now that Kiwis do support domestic tourism opportunities. 

The aim now, he says is make the partnerships to make this a reality. Part of this solution, Walker says, is focusing on premium tourism offers. This will help to ease the environmental impact of 'over-tourism'.

“We’ve got some of the smartest, most entrepreneurial people in the Māori tourism sector. We’re going to be working with them to build out that market plan and the next steps with targeting that (domestic) tourism sector.”

Dan Walker discusses Tourism funding boost - Photo / File

Compliance costs are a significant factor in the pricing of NZ Tourism attractions and experiences. NZ Māori Tourism hopes that the government will help in reducing these costs so that savings can be passed on to the public.

Despite the damage, Walker is confident that his sector can rebuild. He recounts that Māori are 'reknowned storytellers, guides and food gatherers'. Māori Tourism he says, is the one thing that no one else in the world can provide.

“Here at the bottom of the world, a long way from everywhere we made tourism our number one GDP earner.

“We can do that again, by focusing on what makes us unique. Māori tourism is our unique cultural identity so let’s elevate this and be the best in the world at that."

Before COVID-19, Māori Tourism employed 14,000 Kiwis of diverse ethnic backgrounds. The wage subsidy has helped to bring relief to these kaimahi. NZ Maori Tourism is working with tourism operators to strengthen the Māori tourism sector to ensure kaimahi are kept employed.