Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) has shifted its focus from Australia and North America to Asia, as the country works towards building a more resilient and broader portfolio of inbound markets amid tougher economic times.
Rene de Monchy, chief executive, TNZ, told TTG Asia: “We are going to focus on building off peak travel from Asia, as the region gives us the highest seasonality. We want to get more productivity out of the Asia region (as the different markets have various) outbound timings, to even (visitation) out as much as we can across the year.”
For example, in India, the big travel season is from April to June, while for Japan and South Korea it is during summer, from June to August. These months are generally New Zealand’s lull season.
“As such, we’ll be launching a full suite of activities across consumer and trade. Last year, we didn’t have any activity in South Korea and India, but in this new financial year, we will be pushing a full suite of marketing activations in key Asian markets,” he added.
Specific trade activities will include Kiwi Link in China and a roadshow in Singapore, to enable the sector to re-engage and reconnect with buyers, as a lot of travel to New Zealand is still converted through trade channels.
Consumer marketing will also be intensified, under the banners of the If You Seek campaign which launched last August, or 100% Pure New Zealand.
“The If You Seek campaign is performing really well, and people are engaging with it highly. At a global level, 92 per cent of people are more interested in New Zealand after they’ve seen the campaign than they were prior. We’ll continue to use that with new creatives,” said de Monchy.
So far, in this first year of recovery and New Zealand’s first summer post-lockdown, de Monchy pointed out that operators have had to scale back up as well as look for and train staff, which has been “challenging” as travel demand was returning faster than anticipated, leading to a manpower constraint in running activities, increase in flight ticket prices, and lack of rental cars.
He opined that by early 2024, recovery will “stabilise” and operators will be “thinking ahead towards the next summer”.
When asked if there was an overall target in terms of the number of visitors that New Zealand wants to welcome, de Monchy shared that TNZ “does not set a volume target, but a value target”. This is because tougher economic times are expected globally, and tourism will be a “really important buffer” for the New Zealand economy.
“This is why as we look ahead to 2024, we will work on maximising the value of visitors and ensure that they grow more quickly than the volume. Part of this work is influencing visitor choices when they arrive in New Zealand, to enhance their experience, and ensure they have a more positive impact on the places they visit,” he stated.
He is optimistic about New Zealand’s tourism future.
“But we are also realistic that it will be very competitive,” noted de Monchy. “We are going to have to focus and work very hard to (win more Asian outbound travellers), as the region is crucial for both tourism and exports.”