19 May 2015

Consecutive growth for NZ's tourism industry

8:52 am on 19 May 2015

Tourism is expected soon to overtake dairying as this country's leading export earner within the next year, with forecasts showing increased visitor numbers and more jobs in the industry.

Tourism operators say the national cycleway initiative has attracted high-spending cyclists.

Tourism operators say the recent national cycleway initiative has attracted high-spending cyclists to the country. Photo: 123RF

While Australia remains this country's key market, it remains static with China snapping at its heels, followed by the United States, the UK, Japan, and Germany.

Nearly 300 of New Zealand's leading tourism businesses are exhibiting at Trenz in Rotorua, showcasing the industry to 320 buyers from 24 countries here to see what this country can offer overseas visitors.

There were 2.9 million international arrivals in the year ended March, an annual growth of seven percent.

They spent an estimated $7 billion , predicted to increase to $11.1 billion by 2021: by then, tourists coming here are expected to total a predicted 3.8 million.

Chris Roberts from the Tourism Industry Association said the industry was buoyant after a third year of consecutive growth.

"We are clear on what products we have here in New Zealand and we have to deliver a quality visitor experience - a combination of our landscapes and scenery, our people and our culture.

"It is not a numbers game for New Zealand when it comes to tourism: it is all about value, and I think we are delivering that increasingly well."

After 16 years of promoting the 100% Pure New Zealand brand, coupled with Middle Earth, branding of this country has been given a makeover.

Tourism New Zealand's Marketing Director Andrew Fraser said the new campaign would showcase how New Zealand's diverse range of unique experiences are all within easy reach.

"The Hobbit is an amazing legacy we have as a destination, and what it has done is, I suppose, provide us with a unique product in the global world of tourism, and what we have done, is be able to show that all those other locations are iconic and unique to New Zealand, which tourists can experience when they come down here."

Mr Fraser said the China market was changing, from tourists combining a visit here with Australia, to making this country their sole destination.

"They are spending longer (here) and travelling further out to our regions, and enjoying what we call classic product.

"Enjoying products such as NZone, enjoying sky diving through to our walks, through to our cycle rides, so there are classic tourists coming out of China, which is great for forward growth."

NZone, a Queenstown-based skydriving company, has paid particular attention to the Chinese market.

Derek Melnick from NZone said the company had adapted its marketing plan to suit Chinese visitors.

"We have taken the approach of first and foremost going to China. I don't think there is a whole lot of trailoring and understanding that you can have to gear your business up towards the rise in Chinese visitors without going there and making the effort to understand the culture.

"We have hired Chinese staff, which has been critical. We have three fulltime Chinese staff."

Christchurch International Airport has launched a $100,000 fund to help South Island Regional tourism operators better understand the Chinese market.

And Auckland International Airport is working closely with China-based airlines flying here, or planning to.

By 2025, as many as 36,000 new fulltime equivalent workers will be needed in the tourism industry, an increase from the current 94,000.

Mr Roberts from the Tourism Industry said it was an enormous opportunity for young people thinking of a career.

"Please do not dismiss tourism as an option, because it's an exciting industry to work in, and we know that we are going to need more people, and we need people who can deliver a fantastic visitor experience for all of our visitors."

He said at the top of the list will be the need for more accommodation managers, hospitality workers and chefs.