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Tourism industry meeting challenges

Media Release

Tourism industry meeting challenges

13 June 2006

New Zealand’s tourism industry is meeting the challenges facing it and is getting set for a “cracker period of growth” next year, Tourism Industry Association Chief Executive Fiona Luhrs says.

Though last year’s record arrival numbers of 2.38 million visitors were only 1.5 percent up on 2004, the tourism industry had shown in the past that it was resilient and flexible enough to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world, Ms Luhrs said at TRENZ (Tourism Industry Rendezvous New Zealand) 2006 today.

TRENZ is New Zealand’s largest tourism business event with more than 400 New Zealand tourism businesses gathering at the Westpac Centre in Christchurch for three days of intensive business activity.

They are meeting with a similar number of international travel and tourism buyers arriving from 33 countries to purchase accommodation, transport, attractions and activities at wholesale rates, and include them in holiday brochures and itineraries for forthcoming seasons.

Ms Luhrs told about 60 international and New Zealand journalists covering the event that tourism is New Zealand’s largest foreign exchange earning industry and a key driver of regional economic development.

It had shown record growth in the last few years, with a 25 percent increase in visitor numbers since 2001.

But the international tourism and travel environment that New Zealand operators were part of was changing rapidly. Trends and issues that confronting tourism operators included:

- The growth in budget airlines encouraging travellers to make more short-haul trips and opening up new destinations to first-time international travellers

- Fluctuations in currency movements making it more attractive for New Zealanders to travel overseas and making the United States a more affordable destination

- Increasing numbers of baby boomers with the leisure time and wealth to travel, who demand high quality, personalised experiences

- New destinations being opened up – including India, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, and parts of Africa and South America – and competing with New Zealand for visitors

- Technology which allowed instant reviews of experiences and destinations to be instantly spread around the world through email, chatrooms and blogs.

- The growing influence of Chinese travellers, with 100 million predicted to be heading overseas by 2020.

Ms Luhrs said her vision for New Zealand’s tourism industry in five years would see it delivering export earnings of more than $9.5 billion, up 52 percent on today. Average expenditure per visitor would be up to $2990 – up from $2662 today.

This would be generated by 3.2 million international visitors a year, an increase of 37.5 percent on today.

“We will never be a mass market – looking 10 years out, international visitor numbers are not forecast to exceed about 3.5 million a year. The challenge is to keep the quality up, to keep ahead of what our type of international visitors want.”

She wanted to see New Zealand recognised worldwide as the destination which had turned delivering world-class visitor experiences into an art form.

At home, she wanted tourism to be supported as the service sector delivering the most significant economic growth into New Zealand’s regions.

To meet the changes, the industry was updating its 10-year industry strategy, the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010, extending it to 2015.

Westpac Bank Chief Economist Brendan O’Donovan recently said the tourism industry was headed for a “cracker” period of growth from late 2007.

“Tourism is the fastest growing sector in the world and the industry is working together to ensure New Zealand is well positioned to attract its share of the global market,” Ms Luhrs said.

In spite of travel disruptions caused by Monday’s adverse weather across the country, most TRENZ delegates arrived in Christchurch by this morning, with business appointments between exhibitors and buyers proceeding on schedule this morning.

TRENZ is managed by TIA in partnership with Tourism New Zealand and supported by Air New Zealand, Qantas and Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism.


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