Protecting our biggest export income earner

Written By: - Date published: 7:03 am, May 2nd, 2017 - 51 comments
Categories: accountability, exports, farming, national, water - Tags: , , , ,

An interesting shift for NZ:

Tourism roars past dairy as NZ’s biggest export earner

New Zealand’s tourism boom has propelled the industry past dairy as the top export earner as the number of visitors increased by one million in the past six years.

For the year ending December last year total exports of dairy and related products were $12.05 billion, accounting for 17.2 per cent of all exports. Over the same period, tourism (including air travel) was worth $12.17b or 17.4 per cent of exports, according to analysis by the ASB. …

A sensible country would do well to protect its biggest export earner don’t you think? Outgoing Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright, in this piece on Newsroom, seems to agree:

The big environmental challenges for NZ

But now, while debate about water quality and ownership are dominating the headlines, it’s another topic that has Wright smiling.

Comments from the Government that there is a limit to dairy intensification is something she has been waiting her entire tenure for.

“I think there was a tipping point yesterday … I think the comments by [Primary Industries Minister] Nathan Guy yesterday that we’ve got to focus on value not volume, now I’ve been waiting for that for quite a long time.

“I didn’t see it coming but of course there has been a kind of crescendo building … so it’s not surprising but it’s very welcome.”

“For me our natural heritage it’s us, it’s our national identity. People don’t come here to go shopping, they come here because they saw a photo of a national park even if they don’t go to it, and we really need to think how we keep that.”

What about the tourist industry itself? Just so happens that yesterday the Tourism Export Council made its views quite clear. It’s a media release, and it’s excellent, so I’m going to quote the whole thing:

Tourism Industry Cautions Government To Ignore Freshwater Concerns At Own Peril!

Tourism Export Council NZ (TECNZ) has submitted to the Clean Water consultation document and is concerned that we are heading down a path where freshwater quality could lead to reputational damage to our ‘clean green’ marketing promise we share with the world.

Our country’s freshwater policy must reflect the love and connection our people have with their rivers, streams and lakes by putting in place meaningful limits and strong legal protection to support the work of councils and communities.

Instead, the Clean Water consultation document, which indicates 90% of New Zealand’s rivers will be swimmable by 2040, is a mass of smoke and mirrors which fails to address responsibility for fresh water-ways pollution.

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM) in its current form is nothing more than a PR-stunt from Government who continue to ignore scientists and expert opinion re the state of our freshwater. The NPS-FM does not address the serious problems facing our waterways and, in fact, will make them worse.

To add insult to injury, as an amendment to the Resource Management Act (RMA), government have craftily included “economic well-being and productive economic opportunities” criteria for Regional Councils who make freshwater allocation and protection decisions. The changes will effectively undermine environmental protection in the existing freshwater policy statement by requiring “economic well-being and productive economic opportunities” to be given the same status as the environment.

TECNZ (like TIA) were stunned to see that the tourism industry is not being perceived as one of the industries that rely on fresh water quality in the economic criteria used to identify vulnerable catchments for water bodies appropriate for applying for the Freshwater Improvement Fund. This shows a disappointing lack of understanding of the importance of fresh water to the tourism industry and how important the tourism industry is to the New Zealand economy.

CEO Lesley Immink adds “it’s incredible that Government is solely focused on protecting the economic wealth of an industry sector that continues to pollute the environment. There is no point of any mitigation measures if the root cause of waterway degradation is allowed to continue at the rate the Government is encouraging.”

“Clean water is the essence of life. It’s vital for us every single day personally, and for us as a country to be able to enjoy the benefits socially, culturally and economically. The people of New Zealand are starting to take notice and it won’t be long before our international reputation is damaged and we’ll have to suffer the consequences.”

Your move National.

51 comments on “Protecting our biggest export income earner”

  1. bwaghorn 1

    So we have to clean up the water so we can increase the numder of carbon burning jets bringing slack jawedtourists to the country to burn oil travelling around while having pockets emptied. Mmm. Great plan

  2. ianmac 2

    Having been a tourist in other countries I always felt guilty about interfering in the lives of the locals. The veneer that most of those who welcomed us to their country belied the reality of the bulk of the citizens and the stress placed on the infrastructure. Tourism always seems to be a fragile state which could evaporate in a moment leaving the workers high and dry.
    The water should stand on its own merits.

  3. michelle 3

    clean wai is as important as a clean govt but we don’t have one at the moment

  4. Philj 4

    Does anyone ever think of creating a resilient and self sufficient economy?

  5. SpaceMonkey 5

    Anyone else feeling slightly cynical over the timing of Nathan Guy’s statement re value over volume ? This coming from a Government that has consistently chosen to spin rather than actually DO anything in this space, and now it’s an election year…

    Of course I welcome the words… I just don’t believe they’ll actually be followed up with any meaningful action.

  6. Ad 6

    Nathan Guy has no control over Fonterra.
    The axis of value over volume lies with Fonterra.
    The future of our non-forested land lies with Fonterra.

  7. David Mac 7

    One of the many pluses to tourism is that it’s easy to make adjustments that alter how we are treating our country.

    If bush tracks are getting hammered, limit patronage, direct traffic to track B while track A recuperates.

    We can insist the only vehicle a visitor to NZ can drive is electric. Hertz and Avis can go toe to toe and improve our electric vehicle infrastructure on their coin. Most people would be driving one for the first time. Their visit to NZ is unique as they’re driving out of the airport car-park.

    Electric Maui campers, we’d become globally famous for them. Control Freedom camping by having re-charge ports where you want guests to park up. Swipe the card and slow charge over-night, the entity that provides the power gets the income instead of Exxon Mobil.

    When Mauis are driving themselves tourists will tap a destination on the GPS screen and drink tea in the panoramic vista room at the rear of the vehicle as they go over Haast Pass.

    Tourism is cool because we can make major adjustments to how we do it whilst having very little effect on how we like to lead our lives.

    • lprent 7.1

      The major problem with tourism as a industry is that it is SO dependent on the price of aviation fuel. Effectively we get increases when the price of aviation kerosene is low. But the overseas airlines drop us like a stone when it goes up. If we are lucky, we don’t get a similar drop in numbers coming, but we usually do.

      Does NZ really want to have another commodity based ‘export’ industry?

      • Gosman 7.1.1

        http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/tourism/tourism-research-data/international-travel

        Here is a graph of tourist arrivals for the past couple of decades

        https://mises.org/blog/its-not-just-supply-issue-oil-price-falls-35-dollars-barrel-1

        Here is a graph of the price of oil over roughly the same period.

        https://people.hofstra.edu/geotrans/eng/ch3en/conc3en/jet_fuel_prices.html

        Here is the price of aviation kerosene over the same sort of period as well.

        I don’t see a link at all. Perhaps you can highlight where one exists.

        • lprent 7.1.1.1

          Hey I’m at work, there ain’t time to both comment and research while I do compiles and tests.

          But just eyeing it, there are some pretty clear correlations between rises in NZ arrivals (note – NOT tourists – perhaps you should look for one of those).

          Right now we are getting a lot of wellheeled tourism from United, American Airlines and a number of others who vanished when the fuel prices rose the last time.

          Basically, it isn’t hard to see why you are such a complete illiterate about basic business and economics based on the piss-poor effort you make in obtaining useable data.

          If you want to see it highlighted, then perhaps you could look at aviation fuel prices in NZ. A global ‘price’ like the one you referenced is completely meaningless when airlines have to refuel here with all of the extra costs involved in purchasing fuel here – mostly imported as I remember the breakdown from Marsden. Look for the short-term visit data that accurately reflects tourism rather than business trips and migrants. In short – try to be vaguely competent and not waste my time.

          • Gosman 7.1.1.1.1

            The data I’m using comes from reputable sources but here is the price of Aviation fuel in NZ dollars over a similar period.

            http://www.indexmundi.com/commodities/?commodity=jet-fuel&months=240&currency=nzd

            As for the tourist numbers I quote from my link

            “Arrivals and departures of overseas visitors and New Zealand resident travellers are key indicators of tourism and travel”

            Seems a pretty good data source selection if we are discussing OVERSEAS TOURISTS.

            IF your assertion was correct then there would have been rises in Tourist numbers prior to 2004 when the price of aviation fuel was quite low and flat. Then there would have been a slow down as the price steadily rose to 2008. A pick up would have been expected around 2009 as the price collapsed and then a slow down again post 2010 as the price rose steadily till the last year or so.

            Instead we see Tourist growth being low pre 2003 then picking up till mid 2005 at which time it was steady but low growth till 2011 and then huge growth post 2011 (at a time where the price of fuel rose signigicantly).

            In short your theory does not hold weight.

      • David Mac 7.1.2

        Yes, good point. The price of aviation fuel is a great indicator for the rise and fall of airlines, their feast or famine hinges on kero prices.

        Cruising is going through boom-times, the 50+s are the cashed up folk. I wonder if there is more we could be doing with those guests. Self-Maui between 2 ports etc.

        • lprent 7.1.2.1

          Cruise ships are exactly the same. When bunker fuel is expensive then they tend to stay close to ‘home’. When it is low (like it is now) then they travel the globe.

          • Gosman 7.1.2.1.1

            Where is your evidence this is the case?

          • David Mac 7.1.2.1.2

            Most cruise ships swap hemispheres, guests want plain sailing Summers.

          • KJT 7.1.2.1.3

            Actually here because of Terrorism fears elsewhere.

            • David Mac 7.1.2.1.3.1

              A flight out of Stockholm in their Summer, the Baltic is dotted with cruise ships on the Scandinavian/Germany circuit. In the winter, not a one.

              The devil in me is surprised that terrorists haven’t latched onto cruise ships. So many people and the terror the timed explosion of a drum of explosives in the bilge could bring. Far from port, in a storm.

              I think it would hobble the global cruise industry for decades.

              • KJT

                Already have, Achille Lauro.

                Just as well that most wannabee terrorists are disorganized and inept.

                Cruise ships used to spend winter in the Mediterranean or North Africa. Now not so much.

                Of course the short cruises in the Caribbean, are still the worlds largest cruise market.

        • Gosman 7.1.2.2

          As I pointed out – No it’s not. The price of Aviation fuel does not seem to be linked in any meaningful way with rises or falls in tourist numbers to NZ over the past 2 decades.

    • greywarshark 7.2

      Bit of a dreamer David Mac rather than a visionary.

      We are in a state of government by lobby group. There are big tourism businesses which want to increase turnover and profit. They want growth as does most business, there is never a state of Enough.

      Tourism is connected with the euphemistically-named hospitality trade, dependent on alcohol sales to keep going. For instance, expensive restaurants rely on the alcohol to fuel their food business, even if the dishes are costly.

      Some bars in Wellington are complaining bitterly and fighting the Wellington City Council because the national law for closing has been set at 4 am and Wellington police are asking for it to be less, something minor like lock-in at 3am. These purveyors of alcohol and other hospitality like tourists want to suck the dollars out of men’s trousers while their brains are soft from the delirium of letting go on self-discipline. One bar owner interviewed on Radionz this a.m., with 10 venues in the city, talked about being a family business I think, but one able to afford to fight for the right to be a legal pusher till the late-early hours and has spent $50,000 trying to get the full hours. Small operators like him or large capital-rich investors will push tourism to the limit, and past enjoying hitting targets as if NZ was a dart board.

      Tourism is a double-edged sword, and the wielder can be harmful throughout a spectrum of interests. This is just one example which encourages the pocket emptying, avaricious businessman and woman. The casinos, money laundering, the drunken sports fans and the locals can just put up and shut up when it becomes burdensome. Government won’t allow quotas, won’t fund infrastructure, won’t protect local resources from alienation to overseas, won’t protect NZ business so that tourist facilities employ locals, return taxes locally.

      I remember there is a great lampooning number from Les Miserables that has some priceless lines about fleecing the hospitality customers.

      Drinkers:
      Ain’t got a clue what he put into this stew,
      Must’ve scr*ped it off the street.
      God what a wine, Chateauneuf du Terpentine,
      Must’ve pressed it with his feet!
      Landlord over here
      Where’s the bloody man?
      One more for the road,
      One more slug of gin!
      Just one more or my old man is gonna do me in…
      Thenardier:
      Welcome, Monsieur, sit yourself down
      And meet the best innkeeper in town
      As for the rest, all of ’em crooks:
      Rooking their guests and crooking the books

      Two percent for looking in the mirror twice
      Here a little slice
      There a little cut
      Three percent for sleeping with the window shut
      When it comes to fixing prices
      There are a lot of tricks he knows

      Two percent for looking in the mirror twice
      Here a little slice
      There a little cut
      Three percent for sleeping with the window shut
      When it comes to fixing prices
      There are a lot of tricks he knows

      Read more: Les Miserables – Master Of The House Lyrics | MetroLyrics

      • David Mac 7.2.1

        Thank-you. I think you’re a dreamer too. I like dreaming about how things can be done. I get the ball between the posts often enough to lead a comfortable life.

        The big driver for our recent rises in overseas visitor numbers is due to the steady rise in Chinese standards of living and disposable incomes. The Chinese visitors I deal with drink very little alcohol.

        • greywarshark 7.2.1.1

          It’s the big picture I am thinking of David Mac. Like lprent is saying how boom and bust is a big factor in our tourism. Chasing after the gold all the time. Skimming off the cream. Alcohol is a big feature of today’s hospitality, which used to be provided by monks didn’t it, and somehow hospital got in there, and we can’t afford to manage those providing for people who can’t afford to visit their relations in NZ. And don’t times change and alcohol is always there for tourists whether they don’t drink, drink rice wine or beer or…

          The jobs in hospitality, not steady, not well paid, and a big feature in diminishing our unemployment figures. For how long? And are the tourists from China paying money into NZ businesses and does it stay here, or is it a closed circle with Chinese employees and profits that end back in Hong Kong, Singapore or the Mainland? How come everybody is in the Now? What about tomorrow.

          As someone says earlier in the post perhaps we should be aiming to do more with our tourism . Often we just rush round catering for people dropping in for a few days from their skyscrapers on the water.

          • David Mac 7.2.1.1.1

            Hi Grey, you raise pertinent points although I think you’re a little hung up on the booze thing. People don’t come here for our liquor or Sav blanc. They can get a bottle of Marlborough plonk at their corner off-license. A much bigger booze problem would be a Boeing full of lads with 29 pound Easy Jet tickets off to see Liverpool play in Berlin.

            Yes it is seasonal, this does create continuity headaches. With great ski-fields and ace surf beaches we are better placed than many nations to iron out the seasonal bumps.

            Jobs in the sector do tend to cop a double slap. Low pay when working then 6 months of treading water. There are ways of overcoming this, I’ve had to or sink.

            I think it’s wise to chase trends and fashion, it’s where the opportunity for growth dwells. The chance for others to enter the sector. eg: Something I hear from many Chinese visitors is that there is little food available on the highway that appeals to their palette. I’m quick to point out that most outlets have both sorts of Chinese roll: Curry and Rice and Spring! Ha!

            I think Maori could be playing a much bigger role in our tourism. Everyone has nice scenery in varying amounts, Maori are unique. Chatting to overseas guests it’s common to hear of a desire to know more of Maori history and culture. I’m not talking about Uncle Tom sitting on the porch playing ten guitars. More something like a journey across the Bay in a voyaging waka, hangi at the other side and a basic lesson in navigating by the stars on the way home.

            • greywarshark 7.2.1.1.1.1

              David Mac
              Do you think that there are enough imbibers of fine wine with money around the country to pay for all that winery infrastructure that goes up on named vineyards? They hold concerts and sell tickets and it is part of the visitor experience. Your ideas settle on the smallest example.

              • David Mac

                The overseas guests that are at the concert in the vineyard affairs are there because the kiwi mates they’re staying with were already going.

                Those shows feature kiwi audiences getting loaded Grey, Us doing it all by ourselves. I don’t know how we live with ourselves.

                • greywarshark

                  David Mac
                  Yes well they sound grand. I don’t have the wherewithal to go to them.
                  So I stand corrected. I thought that we might have got a little more Glyndebourne than downmarket beer festival. Are you sure you aren’t practising the old NZ knock-it theme.

  8. greywarshark 8

    I like that idea of catering for the particular foreign palate. There could be a franchise of specialist popups or carts that could be looked up on the internet for guaranteed regional Chinese food etc in many areas throughout NZ.

    Maori have set up various tourist industries. already, so you think that could be an expanding market? Each region could have meetings in coordination with local marae to see what they could and would like to do – strategies for events, performances etc.

    And don’t make patronising comments about Uncle Toms and 10 guitars. Great musicians come out of Maoridom and people singing to 10 guitars turn into people with an ear for music, not like the pakeha stuffed shirts who are good at sitting and criticising others – wouldn’t lower or lay themselves open to being judged for fronting up to do a musical turn themselves. I went to see the film Poi E and enjoyed the results of their musicality and commitment to getting together regularly to keep in practice and turn on stellar performances.

  9. David Mac 9

    The people that live in China that can afford to come to New Zealand for a holiday can’t see the stars. They are occasional dim lights in the ceiling of a smoky night-club.

    On a still night, out on the water, away from radiant light. The sky still drops my jaw every time. It’s nearly as good as the Civic.

    For us it’s “Yeah stars, I’ve seen them.” For those accustomed to Beijing air, it’s a scene that touches hearts and prints a forever mind-photo.

    When it comes to Disneylands, our condensed tectonic plate action has got it all over Walt.

    Lets teach our cows to dance.

  10. greywarshark 10

    Interesting theme David Mac. The wonderful world approach. In some parts of China of course they can’t see the end of the block in day time. Bet they have never camped out under the stars. Good in summertime. New experience. Pioneering.
    Something to laugh about as the men get round in khaki shorts, and women in floral dresses. Lots of pics to take home. Selfies galore. Always with big brimmed hats on because nobody wants to get sunburnt, our ozone layer, or even brown as that is still indicative of peasants I believe. Still after re-education the peasants are not right up there with the elite.

    I think we were the last of the pristine lands to be settled on the planet, still very much so when Europeans arrived in our multiples. Let’s be a world centre for silviculture.

    • David Mac 10.1

      Not because we were last to be occupied. Our country is special because we are the newest country on the globe. On the dinosaur calendar, land masses coming and going, NZ is the youngest in a very big family.

      You seem bitter Grey, wanna go fishing? I find it helps.

  11. Graeme 11

    There’s been a lot about tourism in the Herald in the last few days. It’s budget time, the industry want’s some corporate welfare.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business-travel/news/article.cfm?c_id=813&objectid=11844832

    Grant Bradley’s done a series of puff pieces all touting for budget funds for the industry.

    Tourism’s been a bigger earner than dairy a few times, usually just before the tourist cycle ends. The two industries tend to be slightly counter cyclic, so we peak just as dairy is coming out of a downturn. The 12 month period (Dec 15 – Dec 16) also covers the very peak of this tourism boom last autumn and a huge surge in North American visitors pre election. No stats for that, just first hand across our counter. This summer / autumn it’s slowed appreciably.

    I think the industry’s biggest problem at present is the minister. We’ve ended up with Paula Bennet, what the hell have we done to deserve that. From the herald article above,

    “Bennett says the surge in tourism is largely due to world circumstances outside New Zealand’s control and is worried some people were getting a “bit whingey about it.”

    Sorry tuppence, but with that attitude you’re leaving the door wide open for another party to come out with a value based tourism policy and blow you into the weeds. The reason people, in and out of the industry are getting a “bit whingey” is that without proper funding, and appropriate controls over the excesses, people aren’t going to come here.

    • BM 11.1

      Bennett holds the portfolios of
      State Services
      Women,
      Tourism,
      Police,
      Climate Change Issues
      + Mp for Upper Harbour
      + Deputy PM

      That tells me that either Ministers do fuckall or she’s doing a haif arsed job of what should be quite involved portfolios.

      Or she’s an absolute machine or has the ability to manipulate time

      • David Mac 11.1.1

        Yeah, it’s impossible to be the lead singer of Queen, Led Zeppelin and Metallica at the same time.

        Paula’s library of portfolios is taking the ‘I’m just a figurehead’ thing too far.

        “Could I schedule a meeting to have talk about Northland tourism please Ms Bennet?”

        “….hang on, I’ll just have to check if I’ve got the tourism one.”

        • BM 11.1.1.1

          Maybe she sees herself as more a director than a minister?

          Personally, I think it’s bullshit.

      • mickysavage 11.1.2

        She ain’t no machine …

        • BM 11.1.2.1

          What’s she trying to do then? why take on so many portfolios, it’s not like we’re short of National Mps.

          • mickysavage 11.1.2.1.1

            She is the next designated leader. She will be a populist like Key and appear superficially to not be threatening to ordinary people’s interests while continuing neoliberal policies. They just want to make sure she can stick to the script on all the important issues that National needs to fudge.

      • Graeme 11.1.3

        Her arrogance will be her undoing here, as it has been in all her past portfolios.

        It comes across loud and clear from our customers that both visitors and new Zealanders are not very impressed with our uncontrolled tourist boom. If we want a sustainable industry that provides real employment and investment opportunities we have to do a lot better than we are about providing the infrastructure and regulation to support it. The current boom mentality will just lead to an even bigger bust that will do serious damage to the industry.

        At the same time last cycle there were 4 major hotel developments on the go in Queenstown, most of which were too late in the cycle and went bust. This time there are none in construction, just a couple “planned” It’s my observation that these developments are getting later and later in the cycle because the returns (yield) aren’t there due to the volume based approach this government has and the problem is compounding. Airbnb may or may not be an influence here but this isn’t looking good going into the next cycle.

        • BM 11.1.3.1

          It does rather raise the question

          What is the actual purpose of a minister?

          Take Bennet and she’s not alone in this, she has no experience in any of the portfolios she’ holds yet she’s at the top of the food chain just makes no sense at all.

          • David Mac 11.1.3.1.1

            It makes sense when your selection model is based on…

            “They seem to like you, go stand at the front.”

            • greywarshark 11.1.3.1.1.1

              Nice teeth and no doubt has personal advisor for hair style and clothing for the fuller figure, has nice teeth and can flash an attractive smile. Important advantages in these days of women’s liberation.

          • Graeme 11.1.3.1.2

            I’d presume, and expect, it’s to co-ordinate and lead policy development for the betterment of the portfolio and country as a whole. We don’t have a Tourist Department any more, what functions there were got rolled in mbie i think. In day of old when there was a Dept. and THC there was a very strong industry leadership role.

            Her snap at the “whingers” is all I’ve seen from her in this portfolio, so like David Mac, “I have my reservations”

            • David Mac 11.1.3.1.2.1

              I think you’re right about a lack of long-term planning and a grand over-view Graeme. It should be directing the theme of what we’re doing next week.

              The short term opportunities we seize should be components of a grand long-term vision that we can all embrace. That vision needs to come from the guys at the helm that are holding our purse.

              “What is your 15 year plan for Tourism in NZ Paula?”

              “Paula?”

              • Graeme

                Oh there’s plenty of long term planning in tourism. Under the previous minister it’s been all about growing Auckland International Airport and Air New Zealand. The rest of the industry is subservient to these two. So volume volume volume.

                Wonder what sort of shareholding the blind trust had in these two.

                You could probably add Tourism Holdings to that list as well but it’s a cyclic trader rather than long term value share like AIA.

  12. David Mac 12

    Kiwis that are interested in the important things like Shortland Street and car payments, not politico blogs, quite like Paula and her story. We all know a Paula and they’re not a bad sort.

    She has ‘everyman’ appeal. Kiwis are fond of the couple across the road that take in a couple of wayward kids for similar reasons. They’re giving life a jolly good go.

    ‘You were a bene Mum, now look at ya girl.’

    Yeah, it’s a cool story….but sitting in our Nation’s Tourism hotseat???

    I have reservations.

  13. BlueSky 13

    I forget who the last minister responsible for tourism was. /sarc A bit useless I think.

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