NZ Tourism Growth Plan Launched

Hamish McNicol reports on the five pronged strategy, launched today, for growing NZ’s tourism industry.

NZ tourism growth plan launched

HAMISH MCNICOL 1/10/13 Stuff.

A five-pronged strategy for growing New Zealand’s $23.4 billion tourism industry has been launched this morning.

It started with a new partnership that will make it easier for Chinese visitors to spend their money in New Zealand.

The Tourism Industry Association (TIA), the sector’s largest representative body in New Zealand, released its new framework for economic growth within tourism at a summit in Wellington this morning.

Entitled Tourism 2025, the new strategy was devised in response to the need for the tourism industry to evolve and adapt to increase its value.

A booming population of young, middle class would-be travellers in neighbouring Asia presented the industry with its greatest opportunity and challenges over the next decade, it said.

TIA chief executive Martin Snedden said the framework provided no single solution for tourism growth, but announced a new partnership with Smartpay to about 300 tourism industry leaders at the summit.

Under the deal Smartpay’s Eftpos terminals will become one of only a few in New Zealand to accept UnionPay, which is the most common card used by Chinese tourists.

Snedden said most Chinese cardholders preferred UnionPay to using cash. It was therefore vital for tourism businesses in New Zealand to be able to accept the card.

“It will make the visitor experience much more rewarding for Chinese visitors, safer as they will not need to carry as much cash, and encourage them to spend more while they are here.”
Visitors from China were up 27 per cent for the year ending August 2013, making it New Zealand’s second-largest tourist market.

The 229,184 visitors from China spent $645 million last year, which was a rise of 24 per cent.

The Smartpay initiative represented one of the five areas TIA signalled in its Tourism 2025 framework, specifically with regards to driving value through outstanding visitor experience.

Snedden said most New Zealand tourism operators conducted customer satisfaction surveys but few did the same for customer dissatisfaction.

By focusing on dissatisfaction, Snedden said the overall experience would be improved for future tourists, which would add value in the long term.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, who spoke at the event in place of Prime Minister John Key, said New Zealand had a product the world loved, but tourism faced its challenges.

Key, who is also tourism minister, was unable to make the event due to an illness in his family.

Joyce said the two key economic challenges of recent history were the global financial crisis, and more importantly for tourism, the transfer of consumer power from West to East.

There were estimates the number of middle-income consumers in Asia would reach 3 billion by 2030, six times the current number.

“It’s a massive opportunity and carries with it massive challenges to the models that we all operate and it’s not just about tourism.

“It’s about international education, it’s about food and beverage, it’s about ICT, it’s about everything we do in the economy.

“So it’s a massive opportunity, but it is about dealing with change as well.”
Snedden said the profile of visitors to New Zealand was rapidly changing. The tourism industry needed to adapt as a result.

Other areas of focus in Tourism 2025 included better understanding and use of industry data, sustainable air travel growth, higher value tourists, particularly in the education sector, and improved productivity.

“We are developing a range of initiatives, some for immediate action and some for longer-term implementation, that will allow the industry to seize the opportunities available.”