World Tourism Summit in Waitangi

By Tema Hemi

Overseas visitors boosted Northland's tourism earnings to $210mil in the month of February.  Now NZ Māori Tourism and the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance are co-hosting the 2018 World Indigenous Tourism Summit in Waitangi.

A gathering at the Copthorne hotel is the setting to discuss wider avenues where Māori can benefit from tourism.

NZ Māori Tourism Chairman Dale Stephens says, "I would suggest that it is an example that Māori tourism operators are setting for non-Māori, that it is the culture that is making the difference."

The balance between maintaining and protecting cultural authenticity and commercial enterprise is a commonality many Māori tourism operators share.

Minister of Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta hopes that this trend will continue into the future.

In recent years, tourists have become more interested in visiting Northland and figures have grown by fifty percent.

Stephens says, "Māori businesses go into an interaction to create a relationship, not to seal a transaction or contract, so they're in this for the long term.  So, the cultural implications are they take a bit longer, they develop a more solid platform, a stronger relationship.  Therefore the business opportunity is much longer".

Providing a quality service with a unique Māori flavour attracts tourists from all over the globe to New Zealand.

Stephens says, "It's how we protect our natural environment because it's the quality of that natural environment and encouraging our visitors to respect it that creates more and more commercial opportunity".

Māori tourist operators are confident that the industry will continue to grow and will provide job opportunities for local Māori communities in New Zealand.