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“It’s incredibly important for NZ to continue to remain a desirable destination…”

Tourism NZ chief shares his plans for tackling growth slowdown

Globally, people’s travel choices are being influenced by economic conditions and uncertainty from events like Brexit and the trade war between China and the US.

Like other countries, particularly long-haul destinations, this is now having an impact on New Zealand’s visitor numbers.

After years of strong growth, international arrivals to New Zealand are starting to soften. In the year ending July, total arrivals growth was up 2.8 percent and holiday arrivals fell flat at 0 percent. We expect the trend of increased volatility to continue, with holiday arrival growth set to remain low or potentially soften further for the 2019 calendar year before potentially improving in the second half of 2020.

It’s important to remember that after a period of strong tourism growth a subsequent period of moderation should be expected, and given the cyclical nature of macro conditions this has happened plenty of times before.

The slowing global economy is having an impact on growth for many industries and tourism is not immune.

At times like this, consumers often opt for short-haul and domestic travel at the expense of long-haul destinations. This means New Zealand is competing against other destinations for a smaller pool of people wanting to travel to long-haul destinations.

So what can be done to address the slowdown?

To try and help soften arrivals slowdown and support the industry Tourism New Zealand is taking a number of actions.

We are kicking this off by increasing investment in our largest visitor markets: Australia, USA and China. We believe increased investment in markets that have solid and growing connectivity as well as sufficient value and volume might help to mitigate the impact of decline.

As we head into this period of arrivals slowdown it’s incredibly important for New Zealand to continue to remain a desirable destination and top of mind as an option for international visitors.

Our new global campaign, 100 percent Pure New Zealand Welcome is playing a crucial role in positioning New Zealand as a desirable destination and helping to make New Zealand distinctive to consumers. The campaign is now live across most of our 15 key markets and is working hard to showcase our unique offering, with early results showing great promise in engaging and motivating potential visitors to choose us

Industry also has an important role to play by ensuring they’re doing everything they can to provide a great visitor experience to continue to attract visitors from each of our markets and find ways to improve spend per visitor too. Businesses can learn more about our visitors and their preferences by using our visitor profiles tool.

It’s also increasingly important for businesses to have a strong digital presence across online platforms so visitors know about them, can find them and book them easily.

And of course, our globally recognisable campaign work is available for industry to leverage through their own marketing work.

Looking ahead

While arrivals are predicted to remain flat for the near future, it’s not all gloom and doom with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) 2019-2025 international tourism forecasts predicting visitor volumes are estimated to grow to 5.1 million in 2025, up from 3.9 million in 2018.

In the meantime, Tourism New Zealand will continue to work hard to soften the impact of the slowdown and support the industry.

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Stephen England Hall

Stephen England Hall is CEO of Tourism New Zealand

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