Associate tourism minister Paula Bennett turns tourist on trip to New Plymouth
When asked to name 10 tourist attractions in Taranaki, associate tourism minister Paula Bennett could only muster three.
"I'm standing on one [the walkway], your mountain's absolutely beautiful, you've got your Len Lye [Centre], there's just so many. Most people tell me, and sort of the time I've spent here as well, is mooching around and hopping into the town centre and some of those great cafes. It's just beautiful," she said.
The associate tourism minister was in New Plymouth this week to open the Novotel New Plymouth Hobson and learn more about what Taranaki are doing in her various fields of interest, which included tourism and climate change.
Bennett said the introduction of a hotel such as the Novotel was critical for the region, as it would create jobs, opportunities and its four-and-a-half star rating would attract more visitors to the region.
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"We shouldn't under estimate the importance of your domestic tourism. New Zealanders talk about Taranaki more and more and more, I've got to tell you. In Wellington, there's not a week that goes by that it's not the weekend destination for one of my staff or someone that's working around me. That is really important to your economy as well," Bennett said.
"People rave about your cafes and your restaurants and your Len Lye [Centre], and all the rest of it so I think a really important step is that accommodation."
Bennett met with some of the team from the Let's Go project to discuss tourism and sustainability, with the project encouraging alternative transport methods to driving.
"Sustainability is absolutely vital for us as a country," Bennett said.
Bennett, who had recently taken on the role of climate change minister, said she liked what she had seen of how the New Plymouth District Council were tackling sustainability and it was an important part of keeping the country beautiful.
"If we're serious about keeping it that way we need to accept as humans we are having an affect on our planet and certainly on our country, so looking at some of those ways we can really transition to a much lower carbon country is just really really important."
As part of the recent Paris Agreement, countries are expected to cut greenhouse emissions in a bid to limit global temperature rises to two degrees celsius this century, with the aspiration to keep it below the 1.5 degrees mark. However Bennett thinks New Zealand can do better than that.
Because of this, she said the oil and gas industry are in for challenges, especially with the idea of electric vehicles being thrown around.
"If you read what it's going to be like in even 10 years time,we could be consuming oil and gas very differently to what we are now. But they're pretty resilient, and a pretty interesting sector themselves, and I know that they'll be giving that a lot of thought as to what their place is in the world and how they can kind of feed into that sustainability too," Bennett said.