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Nats promise new great walk, and improvements to backpacker visas

Author
Joseph Coughlan,
Publish Date
Thu, 7 Sep 2023, 10:21AM
National's tourism spokesman Joseph Mooney. Photo / Mark Mitchell
National's tourism spokesman Joseph Mooney. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Nats promise new great walk, and improvements to backpacker visas

Author
Joseph Coughlan,
Publish Date
Thu, 7 Sep 2023, 10:21AM

The National Party is promising to build a new “Great Walk” and encourage more young people to come to New Zealand on working holiday visas, as part of its tourism strategy announced today. 

Tourism spokesman Joseph Mooney said the party would create a new 80km Great Walk at Waiau - Toa/Molesworth in the South Island. 

The party would also lift the upper age for being allowed a working holiday visa from 30 to 35 years and allow people to apply for a second and third work visa as long as worker shortages continue. 

A working holiday visa is given to citizens of a large number of countries New Zealand has visa deals with. They allow people from those countries to live and work in New Zealand for a period, usually 2 years. Some working holiday visas, for example the scheme New Zealand has with the UK, already extend to 35. 

Mooney blasted Labour’s record on tourism. 

“The combination of the pandemic and the Labour Government have taken tourism backwards. More than a year since borders re-opened, visitor numbers and tourism jobs have not fully recovered. High inflation, high interest rates and broken immigration settings have punished the tourism and hospitality sectors, pushing many small operators to the brink. 

“National will deliver practical and sensible support to make our beautiful country even more attractive to visitors, so tourism operators – including those in the regions – can get on with delivering world-class experiences and hospitality and growing their businesses and the economy,” he said. 

The party has also promised to electrify the New Zealand cycle trail for e-bikes, with $3m set aside to co-invest in e-bike chargers. 

He also promised $5m over four years to “promote regional events”. 

“A National Government will also fix Department of Conservation concessions so businesses operating on the DoC estate have more security in their tenure and therefore confidence about investing in their businesses,” he said. 

Mooney said the total cost of the tourism package came to $22m over four years, which would be funded through money that was unallocated from the International Visitor Levy, a charge levied on incoming tourists that was brought in by Labour. 

National voted against the levy at the time, alleging it showed Labour’s “insatiable appetite for tax”, in the words of former National MP Nick Smith. 

Thomas Coughlan is Deputy Political Editor and covers politics from Parliament. He has worked for the Herald since 2021 and has worked in the press gallery since 2018. 

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