9 Sep 2009

Tour operator profit hit by swine flu

7:41 am on 9 September 2009

Swine flu has significantly hurt the annual results of inbound tour operator Southern Travel Holdings, which focuses mainly on the Japanese market.

The company posted a $491,000 loss in the year to June, down markedly on the $616,000 profit it made last year. No dividend was declared.

Southern Travel Holdings chairman Rodney Walshe says the group, like many others in the tourism industry, has experienced an extremely difficult and challenging year.

He says a decline in inbound business from Japan was predicted and planned for, but the actual drop was significantly worse than expected, largely because of the swine flu pandemic.

The number of arrivals from Japan in June was down 67% on last year, May's arrivals were down 42% and the company experienced more than 1,700 cancellations.

Mr Walshe says further serious consolidation will be implemented in Japan, but he wants to maintain a viable market share there.

He says the company intends to develop a niche marketing strategy though Experience New Zealand and Drive New Zealand and by improving its offerings to the Australian market.