What is next after the boom times

The boom times in the New Zealand tourism industry just keep coming.  Over three million international visitors came into New Zealand for the 12 months to the year ended January 2016 – 3 172 941 to be exact.

The February figures are yet to come and they’ll take into account the phenomenal numbers visiting from Asia for Chinese New Year.  So, February is bound to elevate those figures to record levels again.

The industry certainly deserves to enjoy the fruits of all these visitors exploring our country, sampling our food & wine and indulging in their favourite leisure pursuits.  For those who rode the dip of the Global Financial Crisis, the rewards are even sweeter.  

Those impressive numbers prompted me to take a trip down memory lane.    There are three times more visitors coming into New Zealand*, on an annual basis, than when I started my tourism career at Tourism Rotorua.  I can’t avoid putting a year to this……...it was 1990.  

‘Back in those days’ the Chinese market was only 3 082 and only 10% of those visited for the purpose of ‘holiday/vacation’.    Korea was showing signs of emerging and emerge they certainly did for Rotorua in the early 1990’s.  In the calendar year 1990 only 4 184 Koreans visited New Zealand.  By 1996 the market had grown to 127 356 – the pinnacle for that decade.

Enough of the fond memories though; back to the present season.   New Zealand’s stellar growth is most definitely a combination of a number of factors.  As a marketer I’d like to think that the industry’s marketing activities made a contribution to this growth.  Take a bow and sit back…..I don’t think so!

Now is the time to be focused on your businesses marketing not for this season, or even next, but the ones to come.  

  • Will your business have a healthy mix of visitors from a variety of markets?
  • Are you securing a healthy yield for forward business?
  • Are your visitors satisfied….even delighted with your product delivery?
  • What are you doing to protect your markets when new competitors start-ups? This is inevitable in a growth market environment.
  • Is your business operating effectively and efficiently?
  • Will you be in a position to make acquisitions when the opportunist operators sell-up in the face of possible slowing of the market?
  • Will you be well positioned to sustain the next dip in the market?  Tourism is notoriously cyclical.

It is very hard when we are super busy trying to keep the operational wheels from falling off.  But it’s important to strategise about the future season, and the next.  To be sustainable and viable find a little time to contemplate the future before visitor numbers slow….if and when they do so.


*International Visitor Arrivals – All
Year Ended December 1990       976 010
Year Ended December 2015    3 129 312
Source:  International Visitors Survey Department of Statistics New Zealand