15 December 2008

NZ tourism industry suffering from fewer international group tours

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Despite a surge in the number of Kiwis holidaying at home, the number of international visitors to New Zealand dropped in the month of October this year, reports The New Zealand Herald.

Figures released from Statistics New Zealand show that the number of domestic guest nights was up by an impressive 16 per cent in October; however, the results were counteracted with a disappointing fall of 11 per cent in the international guest nights, which dropped 114,000 nights to 900,000.

 Auckland and the Bay of Plenty were the hardest hit by the decline in international guests, in which numbers fell by 32,000 and 30,000 guest nights respectively.

Statistics New Zealand said for the past year the trend in total guest nights had been decreasing, and that the trend level was now 2 per cent lower than the recent peak in November 2007, but still 4 per cent higher than the most recent low point in January 2006.

Motel Association chief executive Michael Baines said the popular tourist spots such as Auckland and the Bay of Plenty were suffering primarily from a fall in the number of group tours.

In the meantime, Tourism New Zealand and the new government are trialling new methods to attract the burgeoning markets in China and India to holiday in the country, as well as maintain traditionally strong levels of tourism from the UK and Australia. 

For example, in September this year, Tourism NZ released a television campaign that used video recordings of the personal experiences of Brits travelling the country to encourage more of New Zealand's second largest tourist market to enjoy the sights themselves. 

According to Brand Republic, Tourism NZ found the "What do you say UK?" campaign so successful that they are offering a second opportunity for travelling Brits to become stars, called "Have your Say". 

Launched last week by the new Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism John Key, the mobile film studio will give young New Zealand working holidaymakers and other holidaying Brits to create a visual postcard to send home to the UK, reports Voxy.co.nz.

The "Have your say" portable studio will give UK travellers the chance to share their experiences in New Zealand, which will be edited into a personal scrapbook-style for the tourism board's website, YouTube, and email that will be sent to family and friends.  Some lucky participants will star in the television campaign to be released in the UK in February next year.

"This initiative is harnessing new technology, and marketing through social networking in a way which will allow people to talk directly and immediately to those at home about their time in New Zealand," Mr Key said.

Gregg Anderson, Tourism New Zealand's regional manager for the UK and Europe, said "Our research found that word-of-mouth is a more powerful influencer for New Zealand than for other destinations, and this exciting new development embraces this strategy, as well as encourages immediacy to travel."

The campaign targets British tourists, who – after Australia – make up the largest tourist market for New Zealand.  According to the Dominion Post, 300,000 British tourists fly every year to work, holiday, and permanently emigrate to New Zealand.  A report from New Zealand’s Labour Department also showed that around 10,000 British residents would take advantage of the New Zealand working holiday visa during 2007. 

The mobile film studio's itinerary can be found on the tourism board's website. 

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their New Zealand visa application.

Article by Jessica Bird, New Zealand Visa Bureau.

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