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Northland attracts larger share of intl. visitors


16 May 2005

Northland attracts larger share of international visitors

Northland is attracting more of the higher-spending international visitors arriving in New Zealand.

New analysis shows that international visitors as a proportion of Northland’s total visitor numbers increased from 33 percent in 2000 to 42 percent in 2004.

“That increase is worth an additional $55 million in direct income to the Northland economy,” said Destination Northland chief executive officer Brian Roberts. “For the first time, Northland’s proportion of international visitors is the same as the national figure.”

The total number of visitors to Northland – including both international and domestic travellers – grew by 32 percent over the five years, to 1.75 million in 2004.

Mr Roberts said winning a larger share of international visitors was an objective of the Northland Tourism Strategy and of Destination Northland.

“International visitors spend more than twice as much as domestic travellers, at $170 per person per day compared with $65 to $70 for domestic.”

He said the best growth had come from the Australia, United Kingdom and Europe markets, which have a strong affinity with what Northland has to offer.

“If this trend continues, it opens up new investment opportunities for the Northland tourism industry,” said Mr Roberts.

However, he cautioned that the higher spend from international visitors is accompanied by higher expectations. “Our tourism operators need to be mindful of the way they are delivering their products and services to international visitors – aspects like overall quality, presentation, and quality assurance systems such as Qualmark.”

Mr Roberts added that there were currently some challenges for New Zealand’s tourism industry as a whole.

“Firstly, the high value of the New Zealand dollar means that international visitors are staying in the country for a shorter time.

“Secondly, there has been tremendous growth in outbound travel by New Zealanders are choosing to take advantage of the cheap airfares to have an overseas holiday in Australia or the Pacific Islands. Outbound departures to those destinations were up 25 percent last year.

“All regions will be feeling this effect for as long as those airfares remain at such low levels. With Aucklanders as Northland’s biggest market by sheer numbers, our growth rate may drop off for a while.”

Mr Roberts said the Northland tourism industry has already been tackling the issue of seasonality – ensuring businesses have income throughout the year – and has recently launched an initiative targeting the conference and meetings market.

Destination Northland has also commissioned research into the factors that would encourage domestic visitors to come to Northland during the shoulder and low seasons.

-ends-

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