Otago Tourism Policy School back in person for its fifth year

Industry leaders, policy makers and prominent researchers will discuss whether Aotearoa’s tourism industry is “fit for purpose” in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic at this year’s Otago Tourism Policy School.

The policy school, hosted by the University of Otago’s Department of Tourism, will be held at the Heritage Queenstown, on 23 and 24 March. It is sponsored by Destination Queenstown, Tourism Central Otago and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

The Minister of Tourism, Hon Peeni Henare will speak on the morning of Friday 24 March, followed by others including National Party Tourism Spokesman Todd McClay, Tourism Industry Aotearoa Chief Executive Rebecca Ingram, and Regional Tourism New Zealand Director Kiri Goulter.

Professor James Higham

Co-director Professor James Higham is excited to welcome people back to the event in-person, after it was held online last year.

Since the inaugural policy school in 2019, tourism globally and nationally has been crippled by border closures and much has been said about rebuilding tourism to meet the local, national, and global challenges of our time, Professor Higham says.

This year’s theme is Tourism Policy: Are we fit for purpose?

“Five years on, and as borders reopen, how have we responded to the challenges and opportunities?” Professor Higham asks.

“Are we fit for purpose as we seek to renew tourism in New Zealand to meet the challenges, confront the risks and maximise the opportunities in front of us?”

Tourism academics, business leaders and policy makers will discuss and debate key issues, stimulated by the contributions of invited speakers and panellists, and the engagement of attendees.

The programme is organised into four sessions that will focus on tourism policy settings, central government and regional tourism organisations, innovation and integration, and leadership and policy development.

“In recent years an unprecedented consensus has emerged that new directions for the future of tourism in New Zealand are urgently needed,” Professor Higham says.

He hopes the debate and discussion at the policy school will further the development of tourism policy that is integrated and aligned with new aspirations of tourism.

About 100 people are expected at the policy school, which starts with a free public lecture on Thursday 23 March at 4pm by Te Araroa Executive Director Matt Claridge.

Mr Claridge has a background in sport, recreation and public safety roles and has previously worked at Water Safety New Zealand, The Tomorrow Project and Nuku Ora (formerly Sport Wellington).

To register for the free public lecture, visit: