The importance of the youth traveller

Three years ago, as part of our marketing strategy to prioritise sectors for growth, we identified the youth sector as presenting a significant opportunity for the New Zealand tourism industry.

Since then Tourism New Zealand has undertaken targeted campaign activity to capture and grow the influential youth sector, which today accounts for a quarter of our total arrivals each year. 

This year we launched our third wave of campaign activity, with Epic Experiences building on our previous successes and applying all the things we have learnt from our activity to date. We are also currently finalising the outcomes of in-depth research conducted as part the development of our new three-year marketing strategy which will form the basis of our future activity.

Based on the outcomes of our activity and research, Tourism New Zealand believes there is significantly more benefit that can be extracted from this sector.

Aged 18-29, youth travellers have  the potential to stay longer than other visitors, travel more widely and get involved in a wider range of activities, meaning they are likely to spend more while they are here. They also present future opportunities as they are more likely to return later in life, bringing others with them.

By using youth focused activity and partnerships specifically targeting this sector we are confident we can grow youth arrivals.

So, what are our plans for the future? With the youth sector covering such a wide age group we are conscious that one size does not fit all. We recently undertook in-depth analysis to look deeper into what is working and what can be changed. Through this we clarified that there are two key groups within this sector that require slightly different attention - the Backpackers and Young Adventurers. Whereas Backpackers are keen to explore the world prior to starting work (staying longer and doing more), Young Adventurers are slightly older and are looking to escape the normal working routine before settling down.

To better understand the specific needs of these segments we have worked with key industry partners including STA and BYATA (Backpacker, Youth & Adventure Travel Association).  Combined with our own research insights we are now working on finalising our strategy to tailor our activity to these groups and maximise reach and engagement with the youth sector in our key markets offshore.

This is a work in progress and I look forward to sharing the insights with you in the coming months - firstly when we present our new strategy at one of the six regional Roadshow sessions, and then in more detail in a two part webinar series in late June. You can read more about the youth sector and our activity on our website

Learn more about TNZ's work to target the youth market

First published in Tourism Business: April - May issue

Justin Watson

Director of Trade, PR and Major Events