He says too many people are now waiting on the government for direction and the tourism, hospitality and travel sectors should be looking to transcend that.
‘It’s important to write the whole sector growth strategy yourself, rathe than being restricted to thinking tactically. Then government can come in to enable those plans – but it is a strategy owned by the sector.’
Luxon says National is committed to supporting tourism and helping it get back on its feet.
‘I don’t see this so much as a rebuilding of tourism – more a restart for it. New Zealand needs to be top of mind again for business and leisure travellers.
‘We also need our own people to connect with the world again and we need a policy setting (for travel, working holidays and immigration) at least in line with other countries if not better.’
In answer to questions from the floor, Luxon did not rule out becoming Tourism Minister if elected to Government.
‘I am interested,’ said the former CEO of Air New Zealand, ‘but we will have to wait and see. But tourism is a high priority and we know it doesn’t work to have the portfolio bouncing around the lower levels of Cabinet.’
With tongue in cheek, he reminded the audience that National needs more MPs after its dismal election result in 2020. ‘So if any of you have an interest in becoming a National MP, let me know.’
He also did not dismiss the idea of re-establishing a Ministry of Tourism.
‘I am hugely open to the idea of a Ministry of Tourism. Watch this space.’
Thursday’s Skal event attracted some 70 people, from travel retail and wholesale, hotels, airlines, outbound operators and the inbound sector.
To see photos from the event click here.