Tourism sector fears local government changes
The tourism industry has raised concerns about a potential cut to its funding from local government in future, as a result of changes under the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill.
The bill was recently introduced to Parliament, and signals changes to what emphasis local government should place in work it does.
The bill will change the purpose of local government to include more transparency, financial prudence, and look for opportunities for local authorities to reorganise, Regional Tourism Organisations NZ says.
RTONZ executive officer Charlie Ives said while the industry was in general agreement with the broad focus of the bill, there were significant concerns about adverse impacts on tourism provision at the regional level.
The bill had removed a reference to cultural, economic, environmental and social well-being as needing to be part of local government's focus, Ives said.
However, there needed to be clear support for tourism as a core function of economic development.
"Tourism is an intrinsic part of regional economic development and brings new money to regional and local economies which support wider community and business goals," he said.
"Our concern is that the proposed purpose statement, 'providing for local authorities to play a broad role in meeting the current and future needs of their communities for good-quality local infrastructure, and good quality local services', is too narrow in definition.
"This lack of clarity could deliver unintended consequences for tourism and regional economic development," Ives said.
"It is the view of RTONZ that the term 'local public services' is ill-defined and ambiguous. This could lead to some councils seeing opportunities in tight fiscal times to reduce, restrict, or rescind funding to regional tourism, if they do not consider the sector be a 'local public service'."
RTONZ was strongly advocating that a clearer purpose statement be drafted, clearly articulating the need for continued local government involvement and support for regional tourism investment and economic development, which would ensure the economic sustainability of local communities.
- © Fairfax NZ News