WINSTON PETERS: 'National takes from tourism - and isn't giving back'

03/02/2017
You have to hand it to John Key.

If he hadn’t been a foreign exchange dealer, he would have made a great door-to-door salesman with his smile and patter.

As Tourism Minister his style was clearly evident. He talked up tourism, promoting it to the hilt.

His simplistic thinking was: the more tourists who come here, the better.

He didn’t think about the consequences, or if he did, it didn’t worry him.

He didn’t care that councils up and down the country don’t have the money to pay for toilets and other infrastructure to cater for huge numbers of tourists.

The New Zealand public have become sick and tired of reports of tourists using our great outdoors as a toilet, and other environmental and social problems that have arisen.

When councils made their plight known to Mr. Key last year – he threw them peanuts, a miserable $12 million. You might understand why he was so tight-fisted if there wasn’t spare cash around, but there is.

Each year the government has been pocketing $929 million from GST on international visitor spending. Out of this comes a surplus of $630 million.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa has warned the government that not giving enough money for tourism infrastructure could damage the whole industry in New Zealand.

But John Key didn’t care and his successor as Tourism Minister Paula Bennett doesn’t either.

She has just announced Northland, which has some of the worst roads in the country, will be promoted in Melbourne to draw more tourists.

What about some money for toilets and infrastructure, Minister - not just in Northland, but throughout New Zealand?