New Zealand working holiday makers targeted by Tourism NZ

- Posted in New Zealand by Visa Bureauon 10 June 2009

The New Zealand working holiday market has shown signs of expansion during the recession, which Tourism NZ says makes the New Zealand working holiday a valuable resource for keeping the $20 billion export industry at its competitive levels.

The New Zealand Visa Bureau has noticed a definite climbing trend in the number of New Zealand working holiday visa grants over the past twelve months, and signs are pointing to a continuation of this throughout the recession.

"When comparing the number of New Zealand working holiday visa grants of 2009 with that of last year, a perceptible trend emerges that proves an increasing interest in the New Zealand working holiday," said Amanda Gripske of the New Zealand Visa Bureau.

"While the program has always been a popular option for young travellers, particularly from the UK, conditions during the recession have made it easier for young graduates to take a year off expanding their careers to work and holiday in New Zealand."

George Hickton, chief executive of Tourism NZ, agreed with Ms Gripske's sentiments, saying that New Zealand working holiday makers were more likely to travel during the recession because fewer are tied down to investments and houses and most were finding it difficult to find employment during the crisis.  Further, the airfares to New Zealand are the lowest they have ever been and exchange rates for the Kiwi dollar are favourable.

"There is a lack of jobs and people are saying let's go and have a look at the world if they can," he said.

Hickton added, rather than focusing its marketing on encouraging performance from specific countries, Tourism NZ would tap into the New Zealand working holiday market so that New Zealand tourism operators can benefit from the full potential of the program.

"We have identified youth as a sector of the market, rather than country, that is still showing signs of growing and if that is the case we want to make sure we get our fair share."

Traditionally, Tourism NZ has focused on the middle-aged traveller market with dispensable income, a market which during the recession is not performing well.

The new marketing approaches for the New Zealand working holiday market have largely been web-based, making for cheaper, more targeted and more appropriate channels for selling the New Zealand working holiday.

"We will be capitalising on word of mouth - that sector responds well to that," Hickton added.

In the year to March, nearly 200,000 backpackers visited New Zealand, which almost matches the number of visitors from America – New Zealand's third largest tourist market.  During this time, New Zealand working holiday makers spent $595 million, and in line with expectations, travelled further into back-end regions rather than sticking to the city centres.

If you are aged between 18 and 30 years, you may be eligible for a New Zealand working holiday visa.  The New Zealand working holiday visa allows nationals from specific countries to temporarily work and travel New Zealand for up to 12 months, and gives UK nationals an extra 11 months if they apply for it.

If you are interested in applying for a New Zealand working holiday visa, take the free online assessment test to see if you are eligible.

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