Spreading success across the year
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.