18/5/2001 Dominion :Hoist up the silver fern says tourism chiefs. Adopting the silver fern as New Zealand's flag is one of the suggestions in a review of the tourism industry issued in Auckland yesterday.
     The review of the working party chaired by Sky City casino chief Evan Davies and including Tourism Board chief executive George Hickton has also recommended replacing the board and reducing the number of regional tourism agents.
     The report also wants a seperate tourism ministry.
     A compeling brand was important and the new Tourism New Zealand should seek to "widen and accelerate" the use of the silver fern as the countries brand. Extending the use of the fern mark to the New Zealand flag should be considered, the report says.
     Mr Davies said the group realised that changing the national flag needed a broader debate, around "all sorts of issues".
     "We're simply saying that in terms of selling the nation and selling the attractions of this nation internationally, consistency and strenth and recogniton is important".
     The silver fen would be very good for that, and if you could do that everywhere, that would be great."
     Moari, environmental and industry representatives were also members of the group appointed in September to develop a ten-year strategy.
     The recommended new Tourism New Zealand that would replace the existing board would be jointly owned and funded by the public and private sectors "to lead international branding and marketing".
     Mr Davies said it would "be unfortunate" if replacing the board was seen as one of the principal outcomes of the review.
     The key aim of the strategy was sustainability of the environment and in terms of the communities while increasing the value of the sector.
     The tourism ministry would "lead a whole-of-government" approach and strengthen the policy function.
     The groups recommendations include time frames to re-organise and reduce the number of regional tourism organisations and restructure the central and local government funding, with new regional tourism organisations in place and long-term funding commitments kicking in from the middle of next year.
     The goup also wants tourism operators to make bigger profits.
     The strategy document says the right strategy could increase projected earnings to $14.8 billion instead of $9.4 billion over the next decade, with a total increase of $20 billion during the period.