Regulation in the tourism system

This page describes the tourism system, its objectives and the role of regulation in the system. It also outlines changes to regulation either planned or in progress.

System description and objectives

The tourism system is a major contributor to the New Zealand economy. Tourism is New Zealand’s largest export industry in terms of foreign exchange earnings, and employs one in seven Kiwis. Tourism seeks to distribute economic opportunities and bring social benefits across our regions, cities and communities.

Tourism brings secondary benefits to New Zealand communities, including:

  • Helping to build deeper international connections, which enable other exporters to tailor and market their products and services to those markets
  • Building awareness of New Zealand as a supplier of quality products in the international marketplace
  • Social understanding and integration across local communities
  • The benefits that accrue from the additional scale that visitor flows create, for example, infrastructure development and the availability of a wider range of goods and services in particular locations.

Various organisations are involved in tourism in New Zealand, including Government departments, regional and Māori tourism organisations, marketing networks formed by private operators, and industry associations that represent operators from across the different sectors of the tourism industry.

The Government’s role in the tourism sector is primarily as a steward of the tourism system, which it does through setting strategy and providing funding to promote New Zealand as a tourism destination and to build facilities and infrastructure to support visitor experiences. Regulation specific to tourism plays a relatively minor role in the system and there is minimal regulation specific to tourism businesses.

Ministerial portfolios and key statutes

Portfolio Statutes

Tourism(external link)

  • New Zealand Tourism Board Act 1991
  • New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute Act 1963
  • Immigration Act 2009 – section 399A: International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy

System agencies and their roles

Agency Role


  • Stewards the tourism system
  • Collaborates with other departments on key tourism policy issues, research and statistics
  • Advises the Minister and Associate Minister of Tourism on strategy and policy to promote a high-value tourism sector
  • Manages investments that promote sustainable tourism growth, including the Tourism Infrastructure Fund and the Tourism Facilities Development Grant Fund
  • Monitors Crown entities that support the tourism sector.

Department of Conservation and Ministry of Culture and Heritage

  • Facilitate necessary inputs to visitor experience, help protect NZ’s natural and cultural heritage and assist regions and communities to plan for and manage impacts of visitors.

Ministry of Transport and NZTA

  • Facilitate necessary inputs to visitor experience and assist regions and communities to plan for and manage impacts of visitors.

Local authorities

  • Attract visitors to regions and provide local facilities and infrastructure. Enforce any related local by-laws, e.g. for responsible camping.

Department of Internal Affairs

  • Monitors local government-related tourism issues and developments.

Immigration NZ
(a group within MBIE)

  • Collects the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy from visitors to New Zealand.

Agencies and statutory entities created by MBIE-owned legislation

Agency Role

Tourism New Zealand

  • Aims to ensure that New Zealand is marketed as a visitor destination to maximise long-term benefits to New Zealand.

New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute

  • Amongst other functions, the Institute seeks to encourage, foster and promote all types of Māori culture and the practice and appreciation of Māori arts and crafts.

Collaboration and information-sharing between system agencies

Chief executives of key central government agencies make up the Tourism Chief Executives’ Group. This group provides a mechanism for cross‐agency coordination and strategic oversight of government agencies’ tourism‐related activities. It takes a proactive approach to identifying and addressing short‐term pressures, ensuring the tourism system can respond to growth in the medium‐term and setting a long-term vision for the tourism system.

Numerous informal mechanisms also exist to exchange information and collaborate on policy between agencies with an interest in tourism.

Regulated parties and main stakeholders

Regulated parties

The primary purpose of the tourism-related legislation administered by MBIE is not to regulate parties – it is enabling legislation which establishes two key organisations in the tourism sector.

Under the Immigration Act provisions for the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy, regulated parties will include most people entering New Zealand on a temporary basis. There are several exceptions.

Further information about the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy

Main stakeholders

The main stakeholders in the tourism system include:

  • industry associations
  • local government bodies
  • Māori and regional tourism organisations
  • international tourism bodies.

Processes for engagement with stakeholders

MBIE follows best practice for strategy and policy development and publishes consultation documents and holds public meetings to seek feedback on proposals. We also engage extensively with tourism stakeholders, through both regular forums and ad hoc meetings.

Last updated: 21 October 2019