The tourism marketing agency pushed for an expanded role over the hope of an Australian travel bubble

Published on : Thursday, January 28, 2021

The tourism marketing agency of the country pushed for an expanded role in the wake of the pandemic of 2020, leading to a conversation in regard to changing its legislation and flashing a behind-the-scenes, inter-agency turf war.


The role of Tourism New Zealand have changed, most clearly by its post-pandemic pivot showcasing domestic tourism, in contrast to its usual international work, like the widely praised ‘100% Pure NZ’ campaign. Nevertheless, the recommendation of ministerial policy has stayed firmly in the grip of the business super-ministry, MBIE.


In April 2020, the then Tourism Minister, Kelvin Davis requested Tourism NZ to think on the way to start tourism once the lockdown gets over, and think how the industry might change.


Placing the tourism board of the country, which has the authority to market New Zealand world over, in charge of “reimagining tourism” was controversial. It prompted Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton to caution Davis the industry could easily revert to the status quo. “Your decision to nominate Tourism NZ as the lead agency for the taskforce runs this very risk.”


To quote a good source, “It had been set up as a marketing agency, it was not the body that should be developing a tourism strategy because it just had a massive conflict of interest.”


There was some thought of altering the statutory purpose of the agency. Under the New Zealand Tourism Board Act, its main purpose is “to ensure that New Zealand is so marketed as a visitor destination as to maximise long-term benefits to New Zealand”.


However some at the table, including ministers, were quite doubtful. “There was a bit of a battle royale, internally, and turf war, [over] Tourism NZ’s aspirations to expand their brief,” says our source, who says support swung towards MBIE’s tourism policy team. “It’s really important that tourism policy is decided by a proper public sector agency, not a promotion agency.”
Tourism NZ acting chief executive, René de Monchy has been in the seat two weeks, after the exit of Stephen England-Hall. He says, Being shoulder-tapped by Davis was a vote of confidence in its ability to build up strategy. He doesn’t know of any background fight or power struggle between agencies.


“To my knowledge there was never really any debate about who was going to lead what, it was more about gathering insights into what are all the things that need to be done, and then it was for the minister and the Government to decide who did what.”


pushed for an expanded role over the hope of an Australian travel bubble


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