Can New Zealand Stem the reducing Tourist Numbers
New Zealand Accommodation tourism businesses face a tough winter as industry bosses warn of flat trading as the high kiwi dollar and economic woes thump global visitor spending.
Tourism Minister Damien O’Connor and Tourism New Zealand boss George Hickton were in Christchurch yesterday to prepare traders for what lies ahead, because of the world-wide credit crunch.
“I think it will be tougher. It would be hard to pick at this stage but I’d certainly be surprised if we got any growth in the winter,” Hickton said before the briefing.
“The ski season is lining up OK, and next year we’ll probably have a reasonable summer again … but I think we’ll get one or two months this winter which are a bit tough,” Hickton said.
Negatives included the continued fall in visitors from Japan and South Korea, and higher demand for aircraft around the world constraining the number of seats to New Zealand.
Higher oil prices and falling house prices were reducing discretionary spending of consumers, particularly in North America and Europe.
Most traders were expecting a flat season, with competition getting more intense, O’Connor said. “They are concerned about whether they should plan for growth or whether they should try and make better use of the (visitor) numbers they are currently getting.”
Businesses needed to pay more attention to yield — getting more dollar out of each visiting tourist, O’Connor said.
Hickton said small tourism firms could use the internet for better marketing and to target overseas wholesalers, rather than expecting visitors “to come automatically”.
Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism chief executive Christine Prince said the region had performed above the national average for gaining more Australian visitors.
Yesterday the tourism bosses were looking ahead to the 2011 Rugby World Cup as a way to target visitors, particularly from Europe.
By November, O’Connor said a decision on where teams would be based around New Zealand, would allow more strategic marketing initiatives.
Prince said she hoped the English team would be based in Canterbury for pool games — providing a drawcard to the high spending UK supporters.
The most recent figures from Statistics New Zealand show in February 2008 there were more than 280,500 visitors to the country, up 4.8 per cent from February 2007.
To balance falling numbers from South Korea — down 16.8% in February from the year earlier — and Japan (down 13.4%)- TNZ would now focus on Australia, China and the United Kingdom.
“New Zealand Backpacker Markets like Japan and Korea won’t be growing next year,” Hickton said.
In China, TNZ would chase higher spending Chinese wanting to visit New Zealand, Hickton said.
He hoped to see further growth in competition on the important trans-Tasman market to draw even more Australian visitors, given that fares on that route had recently gone up. “That could well change. You’ve got Emirates possibly introducing the A380 from the beginning of next year to Auckland. But it will still have some (wider) impacts in terms of volumes.”
Alan Wood – The Press
Useful Travel Links
www.Newplymouthmotel.co.nz – New Plymouth Backpackers
www.newplymouthmotel.co.nz – New Plymouth Motel
www.newzealandmotel.co.nz – New Zealand Motel
www.accommdationfinder.co.nz – New Zealand Accommodation