10 March 2009

NZ tourism operators "positively optimistic" about winter

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Despite concerns that the tourism industry in New Zealand would slow down during the global recession, tourism operators are confident that this winter would see strong results in the ski fields, as Australians and New Zealanders chose to have their winter skiing holidays closer to home.

According to Stuff.co.nz, although skiing is typically an expensive activity, tourism operators are expecting to see results to match previous year's high revenue.  A New Zealand Tourism Research Institute study showed that in 2005's winter, $98.2 million was spent in the Southern Lakes region while an extra $68.1 million was spent throughout New Zealand during the same period.

Tourism operators say that the strength of New Zealand's dollar against Australia's would be a large pulling factor this winter, alongside the quality of the snow and the cost of skiing in the northern hemisphere during the economic downturn.

"We see Australia as being an opportunity to protect our winter. A lot of Aussies this year have elected not to go to Japan, the United States, Canada or Europe, but are still intending to go skiing somewhere," sales and marketing manager David Ovendale, of NZSki, operator of the Mt Hutt, Remarkables and Coronet Peak ski-fields, said.

"We're not petrified about the winter.  We're somewhat protected because for many of our customers, this interaction and engagement with the sport is part of their social fabric," he said.

"You don't give up part of what identifies you.  If you're a skier, you're a skier."

Hundreds of international seasonaires will also be hoping to call New Zealand "home" this winter; snow bunnies from the northern hemisphere follow the winter season Down Under to work on the slopes following the European and American winters.  Most of these travellers can work on a New Zealand working holiday visa, which allows nationals from participating countries to work and holiday in New Zealand for up to 12 months in any given job.  British nationals also have the opportunity of extending this visa for another eleven months.


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