Extending our tourists numbers across all seasons can be good for everyone - for visitors, tourism operators, for Kiwis and for the New Zealand economy as a whole. We have a focus at Tourism New Zealand to broaden the peak arrivals period and to support the tourism industry to maximise the resources and capacity that would otherwise be under-utilised.
In the 2015-16 financial year, we redirected 80 percent of our campaign activity to driving off peak demand. Now we are upping our efforts even further, with almost all of our marketing activity focused on growing off peak international visitor arrivals. The drive to increase off peak growth is being applied right across Tourism New Zealand. Our investment in paid media, public relations, and joint venture projects have occurred at significantly different stages of the year than in previous years, and this will continue.
These are some of the additional ways we are working to accelerate off peak international visitor arrival growth:
Special interest travel: We are increasing our focus on segments that are better aligned with the shoulder seasons, including cycling, ski, golf and backpackers.
Off season conferences: In our business attraction work, we are encouraging conferences that run through the shoulder seasons. The Amway China incentive deal for Queenstown, for instance, will roll out during the autumn months.
Supporting shoulder season events: Major events we are supporting for 2017 are also scheduled in the off peak seasons – the World Masters Games at the end of April and the British & Irish Lions rugby tour run for six weeks from early June are our biggest events for 2017.
Encouraging travel to more regions. Visitor numbers from Australia and China are the single biggest contributors to peak season demand. In addition to promoting shoulder season travel from these markets, we will focus on encouraging visitors to experience more and where we can different regions.
Focus on our emerging markets. Experience shows that markets such as India lend themselves well to travel in shoulder periods. For India, visitor numbers already peak in May, and for Indonesia visitor numbers have peaked in July/August based around local holiday periods.
Our off peak strategy is already having a positive impact. We saw an 18.4 percent growth in international holiday visitor arrival numbers for spring 2015 and autumn 2016 combined, which was 3.3 percentage points greater than the 15.1% summer growth level. It is also encouraging to see that the biggest skew to the shoulder season was from our tier one markets where we invest the most money and resources.
Finally, while we have been experiencing incredible growth, it’s also important t0 remember that even in our busiest summer months, on any given day, there are only about three international holiday visitors for every 100 New Zealanders in the country. And if we extend that thought to the shoulder season, it’s less than half this level. In other words, we can still feel confident that we can continue to deliver the welcoming, friendly, 100% Pure New Zealand experience that our visitors love and continue to talk about long after they leave.