Niue's tourism plan criticised
Niue's strategic tourism plan criticised by ex-tourism chair.
Broad goals, outdated data, and a lack of budget knowledge are just some of the criticisms fired at Niue's strategic plan for tourism.
The plan, titled Tourism Unleashed 2013-2017, includes proposals such as upgrading the internet, and putting a portion of New Zealand aid money earmarked for tourism aside for infrastructure development.
The ex-chairperson of the Tourism Authority Board, Teressa Scott, says the plan misses the point and these flawed proposals prompted her resignation from the board earlier this month.
She spoke to Daniela Maoate-Cox about her issues with the plan.
TERESSA SCOTT: There were items in there that clearly went against what would be considered good governance. There were items in there that I felt were clearly outside of what would be the responsibility of tourism for example it said that some of our funding that we were receiving from the New Zealand Government should go towards high speed broadband or internet improvement. That's clearly an infrastructure issue not a tourism issue. There were also some items in there based on what I felt were incorrect assumptions on historical data.
DANIELA MAOATE-COX: And you felt strongly enough about these to resign?
TS: Oh absolutely, yep. I just could not face the Niuean people and say that I supported that.
DM-C: So what kind of things would you like to see in that strategic plan?
TS: Any strategic plan needs to have specific goals and targets and I didn't feel it had that.
DM-C: Were there any other issues you had with this plan?
TS: I think there was information that I just felt were incorrect assumptions. It looked at some historical data and looked at budgets and it clearly said we needed to reduce our budget because it was trying to analyse numbers based on a per-passenger entry into the island, and I said you needed to actually take out the number of local Niuean residents that are travelling back and forth because clearly they're not tourists. Tourism is about targeting them and there has been quite a big increase over the last few years and I didn't feel that the data was reflecting that appropriately.
DM-C: So the strategic plan has been based on data that's probably inaccurate?
TS: Well it had broad data numbers that really needed to be filtered and understood better, yes. But it also had items on there saying that there was a massive overspend on the budget and for example one of the items was money should be tucked away for a period of years for a big capital expenditure later. That clearly told me that they didn't understand the concept of recurrent government budget. I mean we're being funded by New Zealand specifically for annual marketing budgets, you can't just put that away in your back pocket and make that a savings for three years for later capital, it just doesn't work that way. So it just showed me it was a clear misunderstanding of how these sorts of budgets work.
DM-C: How much funding is coming from the New Zealand Government?
TS: Off the top of my head, about $600,000 (NZD) annually for our marketing budget. It sounds like a lot of money but it's not cheap to get advertising so I don't believe it's an excessive budget, it just needs to be spent wisely.
DM-C: So you felt resignation was the only option?
TS: Yes, because it was made clear by the Premier that they supported it and basically if the board didn't support it they would have no other option, they would get rid of us anyway so I thought I'm not going to be humiliated that way. I made my stance and said no, I don't believe in it and I won't endorse it.
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