New Zealand’s tourism industry boss intends waging war on the argument that tourism is a low-value sector of the economy.
“It really irritates the hell out of people in tourism,” new Tourism Industry Association NZ chief executive Martin Snedden tells Mountain Scene during a Queenstown visit last month.
“I agree with them because it’s a really myopic view of the benefit that comes from tourism.”
Snedden believes the argument was given impetus by the late Paul Callaghan, a highly-respected NZ scientist.
Callaghan told last year’s Labour Party conference that tourism is a low-wage activity that can’t be a route to prosperity.
“The more tourism, the poorer we get,” he said.
Snedden: “That seemed to resonate with some people who were key to the use of public money.
“It got repeated enough that it became regarded as true without people actually looking at the whole picture.
“My gut feel is that that’s a really distorted approach to take.”
Snedden argues that tourism is the sole reason a lot of communities survive.
“What do you want to do, close down half of NZ? I think the stats tell us there’s 180,000 jobs directly or indirectly caused by tourism.
“Where are those jobs going to come from otherwise?
“Those people aren’t skilled to go into high-tech industries.
“Alright, they don’t pay fantastic wages but there’s a whole lot of industries that could say exactly that.”
Snedden says his association will ensure the counter-argument on the value of tourism is heard loud and clearly.
“We do have to get our ducks in a row, but I already know from what I’ve seen that there’s plenty of ammunition there.
“It just needs to be assembled in the best way and fired.”