23 Oct 19: Tourism industry facing a steady summer season after years of stellar growth

The tourism industry is busy preparing for the summer season despite numbers from some markets dropping back from the record highs of past years.

Tourism Export Council Chief Executive Judy Chen said the sector is experiencing a mixed performance in visitor arrivals this summer.

“It looks like we’re stabilising after years of double-digit growth but as a whole it’s looking like it’s going to be a reasonable summer for most operators after a relatively quiet winter period.”

“More importantly, the spend per visitor is holding well and many in our premium sector are expecting a really good summer.”

Overall, the Australian and US markets are expected to hold up well over the peak summer months, Europe was holding steady but China looks likely to continue to pull back from the dramatic growth of past years.

Stuart Neels, Group General Manager of The AOT Group NZ, said flight shaming was receiving more profile in the European and Scandinavian media and while it wouldn’t necessarily translate into an immediate change in behaviour, travellers were becoming more aware of it as an issue.

With the uncertainty being caused by Brexit in the UK, the crucial September and October booking period had been affected, he said.

Anna Black, Executive Director of General Travel New Zealand, said in a softening market everyone was hungry for business and diversification into multiple markets would hold companies in good stead.

“We are looking at the 2019/2020 season as a ‘market correction’ after three to five years of incredible, unprecedented growth. The forecast is still putting numbers above where we were at two to three years ago. This is a time to take stock, up-skill staff and plan for a busy yet more manageable season,” she said.

China remains a dominant market for New Zealand and as a destination it is now well-positioned as a premier destination popular with younger independent travellers making up nearly 70 per cent of arrivals.

Lisa Li from China Travel Service said as a premium destination New Zealand was achieving high satisfaction rates with visitors and should not expect dramatic growth year-on-year.

“What we are also seeing is how fast youth travellers from China are embracing technology, and that is reflected in their travel choices. They are a heavily technology-savvy generation doing everything from sourcing information to making reservations to making payments over their mobile phone and companies have to be able to support that way of doing business,” Ms Li said.

“Things in the tourism industry are never static and we are seeing new trends emerging quickly, particularly in areas like concern over travellers’ environmental footprint and the use of technology,” Ms Chen said.

For many tourism businesses this is a good opportunity to reflect and ensure they are well set up for future growth.