After three years of solid growth, the latest stats show international tourist numbers collapsing 8% last November compared to November 2007 due to the global recession. Goldman Sachs forecasts a drop of over 5% this year and more in 2010. Like all economic projections since the world tipped into recession, these numbers are likely to be revised down as the data keeps getting worse.
None of this is National or Labour’s fault – they didn’t make the oil and commodities super-spike, they didn’t make the subprime crisis. But it is the job of our National Tourism Minister, John Key, to react. This ain’t a problem that tax cuts for the rich can solve (not that any problem is) so it will be interesting to see whether this pony has more than one trick.
The hundreds of thousands of Kiwis who depend on the tourism industry for their livelihoods will be waiting for a sign of an appreciation of the problem, a hint of a plan, or, better yet, to see some sort of policy from the Minister. Unlike John Armstrong, I don’t think all those people will be congratulating Key for playing clever politics if he makes them wait much longer.