High hopes for tourism policy school

A new tourism summit bound for Queenstown has been the catalyst for moves to strengthen ties between academics and the sector, the resort's tourism boss says.

Twenty leading tourism experts will converge on Queenstown for a new, two-day Tourism Policy School next month.

Organised by the University of Otago's department of tourism, the inaugural event will focus on the impact, value and sustainability of tourism.

Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd said it was great to bring experts together in the region.

"We want to be forming closer relationships between academia and people on the ground," he said.

"We want to take that opportunity and use it as a catalyst to build relationships going forward."

Speakers will include World Travel and Tourism Council member Helen Marano, Department of Conservation director-general Lou Sanson, Tourism Industry Aotearoa's Bruce Bassett, and Tourism Export Council NZ chief executive Judy Chen.

Prof James Higham, of the department of tourism, said the policy school was an "opportunity to bring together expertise from government, industry, business and academia to discuss and debate the challenges facing the tourism industry".

"We are in a period of sustained growth. It's predicted that five million international tourists will visit New Zealand by 2023.

"There are questions around cost and benefit of tourism that need to be asked, and we need to further build our efforts to move beyond numbers of visitors as the key measure of industry success."

Holding the event in Queenstown was significant, he said.

"Queenstown is facing its own unique issues of sustained high tourism growth, infrastructure and capacity constraints, social and environmental impacts and social licence.

"It is certainly starting to strain and creak under the pressures of constant growth in visitor arrivals."

The event starts with a public lecture by Switzerland Tourism head of markets Urs Eberhart on March 7.

The Tourism Policy School will be opened by Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis, and is a full-day event on March 8.

Fifty people will attend the policy school, which Prof Higham hoped would be become an annual event.


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