Kiwi tourism topples dairy to be on top after 5 years

Published on : Thursday, December 24, 2015

Tourism-New-ZealandNew Zealand tourism’s $13.5 billion in export revenue has put it ahead of the dairy industry for the first time in five years as the visitor boom continued.

The Tourism Industry Association (TIA) said the figure, drawn from Statistics New Zealand data, was based on the estimated spend by international visitors, plus airfares. It excluded international students studying here for more than a year.

Annual dairy exports totalled $13 billion for the year ended September 2015.

TIA chief executive Chris Roberts said tourism and dairying were both vital to the New Zealand economy, and the recent dramatic growth in international visitor spending highlighted tourism’s crucial role.

The current upswing in tourism began in 2013 with the release of the first Hobbit movie providing an immediate boost, and since then tourism export earnings had grown by more than 40 per cent.

Roberts said there was every reason to expect this upward trajectory to continue through next year and the goal of increasing total tourism revenue to $41 billion a year by 2025 looked achievable.

The growth in earnings was due to the multitude of new air services being introduced, the lower New Zealand dollar, relatively cheap fuel prices and strong marketing campaigns.

Roberts said the terrorist threat in other popular destinations such as the U.S and Europe could also have an impact here.

“New Zealand is perceived as one of the world’s safest destinations so when people rule out going to other places, New Zealand tends to benefit. We need to retain that reputation of being a safe destination; it we lose it, one of our advantages is gone.”

Efforts to get visitors to come in spring and autumn and to visit the regions, rather than just traditional visitor attractions, are starting to pay off.

“The Chinese are getting around the country. Two years ago they were rarely seen out of Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch and Queenstown. Now they’re turning up all around the country.”

Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism head Tim Hunter said a lot of work had gone into getting tour groups to visit areas such as Kaikoura, Marlborough, Nelson and the West Coast.

“It has been a bit of a safety valve for Chinese tour groups who can’t get group bookings in peak months. It’s going to become even more important that we don’t flog the main tourism spots, and that we get these secondary areas more international profile.”

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