Transport Minister Meets with Cambodian Official to Grow Māori Tourism

By Tema Hemi

NZ Tourism revenue could be set to increase if the government can successfully negotiate a regional service agreement with South East Asia.

Minister of Transport Phil Twyford held positive talks with Cambodia's Minister of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, Minister Mao Havanall in a bid to strengthen economic ties and opportunities. 

Liz Mellish of Te Whare Waka o Pōneke says a regional service agreement with South East Asia would boost their growing tourism economy. 

Mellish said, "...what we've got in Aotearoa New Zealand with Māori is that really authentic knowledge, deep knowledge we have across our culture, across our reo, across everything".

An estimated four million tourists brought over $11 billion to our economy last year.  Maori Tourism Businesses are vying for the international dollar.

Mellish also said, "I’m excited by that in particularly if the opportunity enables them to travel into Wellington. And the reason I say that is that we've got a fledgling Māori tourism opportunity here".

ASEAN is one of the most important groups in the region and it is imperative that to get an agreement as soon as possible to grow economy. 

Minister of Transport Phil Twyford said, "This is an incredibly important ten nation group. Together they make up one of the biggest markets in the world”.

Twyford looked forward to the contribution of Māori Tourism Operators in catering to ASEAN visitors.

"The development of the Māori tourism economy is one of the most exciting things that we see at the moment and the more opportunities we can generate with these global markets the more opportunities there are for new firm and entrepreneurs".

Throughout the summer season Te Whare Waka will employ 120 staff to keep up with the busy demand of tourists flooding into the city. 

Mellish stated, "It gives them (staff) an opportunity to learn about hospitality but even more than that, that interaction with other cultures".

Minister Twyford understands the importance of getting this win for our nation.

“This growth in visitor numbers is only possible through the air services arrangements we have put in place, which makes improving them vital to growing the tourism sector".