The boom in tourism this summer is turning the attention of regional marketers towards destination management, in an effort to balance industry growth and local community satisfaction.
The Tourism Industry has boomed this summer with Regional Tourism Organisations reporting estimated annual growth of between 10 and 20 percent over the peak season. Regional Tourism Organisations were originally established to market their tourism destination. Regional Tourism New Zealand (RTNZ) said the growth in numbers is adding pressure on some regions, which local tourism leaders acknowledge is a challenge they are looking to tackle in partnership with their communities and local councils.
RTNZ executive officer, Charlie Ives, said the 30 Regional Tourism Organisations are all delighted with how the summer season is going but they’re also very aware that they need to manage the experience for both visitors and locals. Some have also worked with the Department of Conservation, talking to visitors about their possible impact on the stunning environment that attracted them to the region in the first place.
The RTOs are very conscious of monitoring their community’s attitude to growth in tourism.
“Generally, locals see the opportunities and are embracing the industry but at the same time they are also very vocal that tourism needs careful and strategic management.”
Mr Ives said while the tourism industry is performing well overall in New Zealand, each region has its own challenges.
“Some face the challenges of a growth in new markets, some wishing to disperse visitors, some dealing with issues like managing freedom camping, and some simply still wanting more visitors.”
“Most of our regions are also working on marketing the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn to spread the benefits at times when it is not so busy.”
Mr Ives said regional tourism organisations will become more and more involved in the careful management of their destination. In many regions tourism is a key sector in regional development strategies. Meanwhile, Tourism Waikato has begun a monitoring programme of the social impact of tourism through the United Nations World Tourism Organisation – a first for a New Zealand region.
The phenomenal growth in tourism has created more than 110,000 jobs directly related to tourism is over 6 percent of the workforce. Both domestic and international visitors spend around $34 billion a year. RTOs have seen their own communities flourish and benefit from the growth in tourism with more facilities, a growth in leisure and food and beverage options, more jobs and a large boost to the economy.
The latest ‘Mood of the Nation’ survey commissioned by Tourism New Zealand and Tourism Industry Aotearoa showed that compared with the last survey of this kind, more New Zealanders (40 percent) are worried about the pressures arising from tourism growth. However, generally those surveyed viewed international tourism positively as a source of regional economic growth; opportunities for businesses and employment and bringing vitality to regions. Mr Ives said tourism – perhaps more than any other industry – touches the whole community.
“Our industry will continue to be a good news story as long as both regionally and nationally we plan ahead, foresee the issues that may arise and address them long before they’re bothering anyone. “In the meantime, our industry is flat out with what looks like the largest summer season there has ever been.”