The head of Tourism New Zealand says the country’s booming tourism industry risks alienating visitors with its high prices.
CEO Stephen England-Hall has warned that the industry needs to guard against becoming too expensive for overseas visitors.
He argues that, while surveys show growth in visitor satisfaction, prices for food, petrol and accommodation are perceived by internationals as high.
An annual report on the state of the New Zealand tourism industry argued a dip in international visitor satisfaction could be attributed to the cost of accommodation, eating out, public transport, activities and a lack of free internet.
Tourism New Zealand has concentrated on ‘value over volume’ in recent years, targeting higher spending tourists who stay longer and travel more widely.
The report, released last week, said there was a perception from the industry and international visitors that NZ was becoming an expensive place to holiday.
”If New Zealand got too expensive we would see a decline in visitor numbers and a demand drop off,” Mr England-Hall told the New Zealand Herald.
“You would assume that pricing has not reached a point of no return yet, but it is something we are very mindful of.”
He said visitors are be prepared to pay to visit world-class scenic attractions such as Milford Sound.
”But if you hike the price of a one-bedroom three-star motel up $100 they would resist that.”
Last year, international visitor spending in New Zealand reached a record $10.6 billion, driven by an increase in tourists from the United States.
Spending by US visitors was up 18 per cent to $1.3b, following the introduction of direct flights between Houston and Auckland.
Australia and China remain New Zealand’s biggest tourism markets, with Australians spending $2.6b and Chinese $1.5b in 2017.