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Whanganui Tourist Spend Up 28 Per Cent

As tourism industries in New Zealand’s biggest cities struggle, Whanganui has recorded robust visitor numbers with October’s visitor spend up 28 per cent on 2019.

Whanganui had the second strongest year-to-year result of all of the Regional Tourism Organisations, reporting -1 per cent growth in 2020 while other RTOs experienced up to -26 per cent growth, according to numbers from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The outcome is significant and positive for the region, in a year when borders closed to international visitors and New Zealanders were limited by months of restricted movement, Paul Chaplow Whanganui & Partners’ Strategic Lead Visitor Industries said.

A winter campaign undertaken by Whanganui & Partners helped the district attract tourists at a time when visitors were looking for exciting domestic destinations, Chaplow said, offering crucial support to the visitor industry after lockdown.

“There was a 33 per cent increase in tourism spend for July, 2020 (from the previous year) and there has been an average growth in tourism spend of 21 per cent (July – October, 2020).”

Chaplow said this built on the record breaking 11 per cent increase trend Whanganui had seen over summer.

Tourism New Zealand has been running a broader domestic campaign titled ‘Do something new, New Zealand’ which is helping drive domestic travel, Chaplow said. With the overseas market no longer an option, many New Zealanders are looking for new experiences and places to visit.

“Our own marketing on top of this has helped lift the Whanganui region into the consideration set for potential visitors.”

As travellers turn to Google for inspiration, Chaplow said the agency’s decision to provide a ‘Google My Business’ workshop to assist local businesses to lift their Google profile had been beneficial. Whanganui & Partners had also audited and improved Whanganui’s broader Google presence.

“The search engine is a resource that is more valuable than ever,” Chaplow said. “Ninety per cent of travellers use Google in their decision making.”

Whanganui & Partners’ summer tourism campaign has been launched with fresh images and its engagement was being closely monitored. “This will be fine-tuned and updated as we move through summer.”

International travellers usually account for about 20 per cent of summer visitor numbers, and the agency is focused on helping local operators capture as much of the domestic market as possible to help offset the loss of international tourists.

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