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New Zealand tourism is stagnating with the direct contribution of tourism to GDP sitting at 3.3 percent over the last three years, a University of Canterbury (UC) marketing expert says.

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New Zealand tourism is stagnating with the direct contribution of tourism to GDP sitting at 3.3 percent over the last three years, a University of Canterbury (UC) marketing expert says.

The direct contribution of the travel and tourism industry to generating employment in New Zealand has been decreasing the last two years, UC lecturer Dr Girish Prayag says.

While there are signs of recovery in specific markets, the overall picture shows that the figures are nowhere near the 2009 level when New Zealand recorded six percent real growth in travel and tourism contribution to the country’s GDP.

Since then, there has been no real growth in spending on travel and tourism. The World Travel and Tourism Council figures show a growth in spending of 5.3 percent in 2009, with this figure declining to 3.8 percent in 2012 and 3.1 percent this year.

Attracting international travel to New Zealand remains a challenge. While early 2013 figures are promising for some markets, the reality is that New Zealand recorded negative growth last year.

Asian markets showed reasonable growth in tourist arrival numbers and leading the way is China with 35.4 percent growth in total number of arrivals last year. Yet, the hope of recovery will only materialise this year if there is a sustained marketing effort in the growth markets.

Developing a clear strategy for emerging markets is not without challenges. New Zealand is not alone in the struggle to develop such an engaging and effective strategy, given that visitors from emerging markets are value-conscious, have diverse expectations and options for holidays are endless.

The government focus on attracting high value tourists can grow tourism in New Zealand but requires a more in-depth understanding of the behaviour and expectations of such visitors.

Our competitors, including Australia, want the same customers too. We need to have the infrastructure and services in place to satisfy these visitors. Additional spending in Auckland and Christchurch will certainly contribute to enhance the experience of such visitors.’’

Dr Prayag says growth can also happen if Tourism New Zealand finds innovative ways to draw attention to this part of the world, like the film industry has done for the country.

A clear marketing strategy for attracting regional or global events combined with film tourism is just one way of being innovative, along the same lines as a Berlin or Cannes film festival, Dr Prayag says.

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