24 May 2024

Tourism NZ's $5b off-peak plan

9:04 am on 24 May 2024
No caption.

Tourism NZ wants to grow international tourism spend by an additional $900 million in the strategy's first year. File photo. Photo: 123rf

Tourism New Zealand has an ambitious new strategy to grow tourism by $5 billion over the next four years by attracting more visitors outside of summer.

More than a third of visitors travel here in the summer months, representing 40 percent of the total spend, but it can result in insecure seasonal jobs, overcrowding and congestion.

Outside of peak season, many hotel rooms are left empty, business return to skeleton staff and some hibernate, waiting for visitors to return over the warmer months.

Tourism New Zealand chief executive René de Monchy said without intervention, summer visitor numbers were expected to grow faster than during the off-peak months.

They set the four-year target of growing tourism spend of $5 billion with 70 percent - or $3.5 billion - of that being achieved outside of the peak season.

It's the first time the entire organisation has focused its attention on growing visitors in the quieter season across all their markets.

"This is our number one focus in every country we operate in."

In the strategy's first year, Tourism New Zealand wants to grow international tourism spend by 8.7 percent, or an additional $900 million.

Officially starting on 1 July, the strategy has also set the target of growing international tourism spend in the off-peak by 9.6 percent, or $655 million.

They would focus their entire budget towards the goal of building desire for New Zealand as a year-round destination, focusing all trade activity of converting people considering a trip outside of the summer months next financial year.

de Monchy said the strategy would impact their trade partnerships, how they worked with operators and how they did their advertising as it would all be through the lens of attracting off-peak visitors.

But they would not be doing the work alone as it relied on them working with the industry, he said.

"That is the biggest challenge I think for the tourism sector to be able to grow productivity, to be able to secure longer term jobs, to be able to have a really strong sustainable form of growth."

Seasonality was not a new issue but it had gotten worse, he said.

The strategy sought to showcase the country's off-peak experiences and build its brand as a sustainable destination, while working to encourage year-round flights and look at how best to target each overseas market.

That would include using local insights, emerging trends and travel behaviours.

He used the example of China's growing interest in ski tourism in the wake of the Olympic Games, saying they'd look at how best to entice more travellers to look to New Zealand for their powder fix.

He wanted productive and sustainable tourism growth to aid the government's goal to double the value of exports over a decade.

It would benefit the industry and the economy by using existing infrastructure that was under-used during the quieter months, enabling businesses to operate year-round and reducing the pressure from visitors on communities, he said.

Tourism New Zealand also aimed to grow the number of Qualmark businesses to help the sector become more sustainable and foster demand by showcasing the array of visitor experiences available, as well as working with regional tourism organisations to support their destination management plans.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs