While Maori tourism industry has the potential to rival the best in the world the National government has done little to encourage its growth, Labour’s Tourism spokesperson Rino Tirikatene says.
His comments come as TRENZ, the annual industry showcase, winds up in Queenstown.
“The potential for growth in the tourism sector is huge. Our culture is what makes Aotearoa a unique destination, but we’re often seen as some sort of sector ‘poor cousin’. We are more than just kapa haka and hangi.
“There’s a real need for business mentoring and business analysis to help whanau and hapu become a part of a thriving industry full of potential,” Rino Tirikatene said.
“Whanau and hapu bring ancient cultural practices of aroha, manaaki, awhi and kai (love/hospitality/caring and food) to the tourism kete, as well as their estates of mountains, forests, rivers and seas.
“With clear strategies and good mentoring, Maori would be well equipped to take advantage of opportunities.
“Something has to be done. Our Japanese and Korean visitor numbers are down, largely due to the Christchurch earthquakes.
“Visitor numbers from the UK are down due to the economic recession and changed travel patterns, and even our Aussie cousins are spending less cash and time here.
“There’s been even less direction from the Government. In fact the only thing that saved tourism’s butt last year was the $390m spend at the RWC, and one of those can’t be pulled out of the hat every year.
“To that end, Labour is prepared to invest in the skills and training initiatives and work to increase business capability in the tourism sector,” Rino Tirikatene said.