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Overlander decision good news for NZ tourism

Media Release

Overlander decision good news for future of New Zealand tourism

28 September 2006

The tourism industry has reacted positively to news today that the Overlander rail service is to continue operation.

Chief Executive of the Tourism Industry Association (TIA), Fiona Luhrs said Toll’s decision to continue the service even with a reduced timetable is very good news and steers New Zealand tourism in the direction of a sustainable future.

“There is growing consciousness among international travellers of the potential impacts of mass tourism on the environment and demand for sustainable, environmentally responsible experiences is increasing,” she said.

Ministry of Tourism figures show that scenic rail trips are growing in popularity among our international visitors. In 1998, almost 25,800 visitors took a scenic rail trip but last year this grew to 74,500 – a 200% increase in seven years.

Over the same period, the number of international visitors who used rail as a means of transport during their New Zealand holiday grew from 78,757 to 141,175.

“New Zealand markets itself to the world as being “100% Pure” and rail travel is widely regarded as an environmentally friendly option.

“Notwithstanding the energy that will be required to continue to update tracks and trains, railroads are more energy efficient than cars, trucks or planes and are more economical to maintain in the long-term than the road network.

“People travel around the world for the excitement and pleasure of taking classic rail journeys. It’s a wonderful way to experience a country and an increasingly popular option,” she said.

“We have only to look to the success of the TranzAlpine service in the South Island to see the potential results good marketing can have in attracting passengers to travel by rail. The fact that this trip is featured among the AA’s 101 Must-Dos for Kiwis speaks for itself.

“The rapidly rising number of retiring baby boomers who have the leisure time and wealth to travel frequently is also creating demand for experiences like the Overlander journey. They are looking for high quality, personalised experiences combining ‘soft’ adventure, culture and their personal passions, be it golf, food and wine – or rail travel,” she said.

“This is a good decision and reflects work behind the scenes by many agencies and individuals,” said Ms Luhrs.

Key statistics about tourism:

- Tourism is the world's fastest growing industry
- New Zealand tourism arrivals have doubled in size since 1994 to 2.38 million
- Forecast annual growth is 4% on average for at least the next five years
- Tourism is New Zealand's single largest export sector and contributed $8.1 billion dollars to the economy in the year ended March 2004. That is 18.7% of exports

- Domestic tourism contributes $9.4 billion to the economy each year
- Tourism directly and indirectly employs 10 percent of the work force. That is one in 10 jobs in New Zealand.
- Tourism represents 9% of gross domestic product and generates nearly $526 million in GST returns from international visitors each year. Tourism is the only export sector whose international clients pay GST.

ENDS

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