10 Jun 2009

Tourism operators look to skiers, backpackers

2:50 pm on 10 June 2009

The tourism industry is pinning its hopes on the coming ski season and on backpackers to help carry it through the economic downturn.

The country's main tourism operators are gathered in Auckland for the annual TRENZ conference, to showcase their products to hundreds of international buyers and media.

Visitor numbers for summer were down about 3% and Tourism New Zealand chief executive George Hickton says this winter could bring a 10% fall.

But he says early bookings from Australia for the ski season are up 25%, which will help make up the shortfall.

Mr Hickton says the industry is also targeting young travellers as a potential source of more income.

The Tourism Industry Association says there are fewer buyers and exhibitors at the TRENZ conference than last year because of swine flu and the global economic downturn.

But it says those at the conference still hope to do about $2 billion of business over the three days of the event.