Indian arrivals to New Zealand have grown steadily since we increased our investment in the market three years ago, with total arrivals up 11.2 per cent for the year ending May 2016.
Significantly, New Zealand has welcomed around 68 per cent more holiday arrivals over the last three years, climbing from just over 14,ooo in May 2013 to almost 23,856 for the year ending May 2016.
Market potential acknowledged
The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s latest tourism forecast notes that India holds much promise for New Zealand in future decades – with expectations the market will have an increasing propensity to travel here.
In May 2016 this was supported by the Government’s announcement of additional funding to target the growth opportunities the Indian visitor market presents, helping further our work to generate value for the industry now and into the future.
We continue to focus on accelerating quality visitor growth in the long term. The extra funding will enable us to up weight our activity in market including: training and upskilling the travel industry; leveraging key industry and airline partnerships; and expanding on our successful opinion leader activity with tourism ambassador and Bollywood star, Sidharth Malhotra, to drive awareness and preference for New Zealand.
Who are we targeting and why?
While increased visitor numbers have been sustained since the New Zealand Cricket World Cup (CWC) in 2015, India offers more than just profound cricket fans.
As discussed in my recent webinar, the Indian market is predominantly in the independent professional (24-55) category, and has two peak periods for travel, the strongest being November through to February.
In line with our strategic direction to grow shoulder season travel, TNZ’s trade activity in India focuses on growing the second peak travel period in autumn (specifically March-April). Our most recent research supports this, reporting that 38 per cent of our target Indian market was considering travel during this time, while a further 61 per cent said they were considering visiting during spring (specifically October–November).
India also has a growing business event and incentives market; a sector that also has the potential to travel outside peak seasons as well as visiting a greater numberof regions while here.
As with all markets there are challenges to realise growth. We know that Indian visitors tend to book their travel with a short lead time which can result in capacity issues during peak time, especially for accommodation. While we can’t change booking habits, we can educate the travel industry about the benefits of travelling during shoulder seasons for their clients, and ensure our campaign activity promotes travel for periods when we know we have capacity.
Breaking into Bollywood – leveraging opinion leader success
Our activity with our tourism ambassador Sidharth Malhotra continues to deliver results –achieving $5.1min equivalent advertising spend through to May 2016.
In addition, our research tells us that Sidharth is also effectively driving awareness and preference for New Zealand. Almost 100 per cent of our Indian target market were aware and like Sidharth, with 90 per cent seeing him as a great fit with New Zealand and our 100% Pure New Zealand campaign and brand work.
At the end of May, Sidharth shared his New Zealand experience with key media and trade in Ahmedabad, Gujarat – with its large Bollywood following ensuring strong interest from the attending media. The event provided the opportunity for Sidharth to share his passion for New Zealand and the raft of experiences and activities he took part in while here.
New Zealand’s variety of adventure experiences received the endorsement of Indian travellers when they voted it the ‘Best international adventure destination’ at the Lonely Planet Magazine India travel awards in April 2016. Sidharth reinforced his passion for our country presenting the award to TNZ at the ceremony.
TNZ looks forward continuing its investment in this promising lively market and the team and I will update you as progress unfolds.