The tourism industry is close to overtaking dairy as New Zealand's number one export earner, but a lobby group for the tourism sector says growth continues to be constrained by a relatively low level of investment.
The Tourism Industry Association expects the industry to earn $41 billion a year by 2020, which is nearly double its current size of $24 billion.
Chief executive Chris Roberts said its challenges included finding staff, and getting enough investment to cope with the growing numbers of travellers.
"We still have a challenge of getting sufficient investment into the tourism industry and we don't have a great pool of capital in New Zealand, so it is often a matter of looking offshore to see what money may come into New Zealand."
Trade figures last month showed a dramatic annual drop in dairy exports in the 12 months to July, leading one senior economist to predict tourism will overtake it by September.