Spread­ing suc­cess across the year

Central Otago Mirror - - CONVERSATIONS - JAC­QUI DEAN

Au­tumn and spring are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar with tourists in Wanaka and Cen­tral Otago as vis­i­tor num­bers dur­ing the off-peak sea­sons take off.

Some within the in­dus­try are even say­ing the days of the tourism shoul­der sea­son are over.

The Min­istry of Busi­ness, In­no­va­tion and Em­ploy­ment pro­vided me with some in­ter­est­ing num­bers which show that in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tor guest nights to Cen­tral Otago in spring 2016, from Septem­ber to Novem­ber, in­creased by 37 per­cent on the pre­vi­ous year.

In Wanaka in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tor num­bers were up by 21 per­cent in the spring of 2016, com­pared to 2015.

In­ter­na­tional vis­i­tor spend­ing over those same months in 2016 was also up by 30 per­cent on 2015, with an ex­tra $2.7 mil­lion com­ing into Cen­tral Otago and an­other $14.9 mil­lion for Wanaka.

It is no se­cret that New Zealand’s tourism sec­tor is do­ing spec­tac­u­larly well, but it’s about en­sur­ing that this suc­cess is spread across the year and across the re­gion. An in­creas­ing num­ber of vis­i­tors from key mar­kets, such as China, the United States and Aus­tralia, are choos­ing to visit NZ at dif­fer­ent times of the year rather than just in sum­mer.

This trend is very ex­cit­ing be­cause it pro­vides tourism oper­a­tors with more con­sis­tency and im­proved long term growth.

It’s in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult to run a busi­ness and em­ploy staff, when your cash flow fluc­tu­ates from month to month.

It also makes sense for peo­ple to visit our coun­try when there’s more ca­pac­ity, thus en­sur­ing that they en­joy their stay. Tourism busi­ness own­ers have of­ten re­in­forced to me the need to mar­ket the shoul­der sea­sons to smooth out de­mand and give busi­nesses more con­sis­tent growth. The Gov­ern­ment has lis­tened to these con­cerns and in the past two years Tourism New Zealand has in­vested most of its fund­ing into pro­mot­ing travel dur­ing the shoul­der sea­sons.

It has been tar­get­ing in­ter­est groups such as skiers, cy­clists, and golfers, who can en­joy NZ at dif­fer­ent times of the year.

Also, an ex­tra $8 mil­lion that was in­cluded in Bud­get 2016 is ex­tra fund­ing for Tourism New Zealand to par­tic­u­larly tar­get those from the In­dian and the US mar­kets, who do travel out­side of our sum­mer sea­son.

A key ob­jec­tive of the Gov­ern­ment’s Tourism Growth Part­ner­ship fund is to lift the pro­duc­tiv­ity of the tourism sec­tor.

This fund gives pri­or­ity to projects ad­dress­ing sea­sonal travel pat­terns and en­cour­ag­ing vis­i­tor spend­ing dur­ing shoul­der and off sea­sons. Lo­cal Re­gional Tourism Or­gan­i­sa­tions also de­serve credit, as they have worked hard in re­cent years to pro­mote Cen­tral Otago and Wanaka, mar­ket­ing events like the up-com­ing Fes­ti­val of Colour.

Pro­mot­ing shoul­der sea­son travel to en­cour­age in­ter­na­tional trav­ellers to visit dur­ing off-peak times is all about cre­at­ing and sus­tain­ing jobs in this re­gion.

Jac­qui Dean is the Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for Waitaki.

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