Industry News

Tourism businesses focus on value over volume

Tourism business confidence levels are strong, with operators focused on growing visitor value over volume, according to the New Zealand Tourism State of the Industry 2018 report.

The report, prepared by the Wellington Institute of Technology, is being released today (26 March 2019) by Tourism Industry Aotearoa, which commissioned the report. It includes the results of a survey of 431 tourism operators from around the country, as well as a review of the industry’s performance. It also provides a Scorecard on how the industry is tracking to reach its Tourism 2025 goal of achieving $41 billion total annual tourism revenue. 

Completed in the second half of 2018, the survey found 52% of tourism operators thought their business performance would improve over the coming 12 months. Only 11% believed their business situation would deteriorate, bucking the trend of the general business community.

TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts says this confidence comes off the back of four years of exceptional growth. 

“It’s very pleasing to see that operators are successfully focused on attracting higher value visitors over increasing total visitor numbers, which will help mitigate the slower growth in international arrivals the industry is now experiencing.

“Attracting higher-value visitors is also appealing to tourism businesses as a way of reducing the social and environmental impacts of increased visitor numbers in some tourism hot spots.”

Positively, 68% of tourism businesses said they were well prepared for the opportunities new visitor markets present. They also understood the importance of maintaining the very high level of visitor satisfaction the industry currently enjoys in order to advance their business.

Mr Roberts says the confidence levels shown in the State of the Industry Survey appear to be continuing. TIA has just conducted a quick snapshot survey with its members.

“75% of respondents had seen growth in their business over summer and 77% expect further growth over 2019.”

WelTec Tourism Lecturer Jamie Smiler, who authored the New Zealand Tourism State of the Industry 2018, says that tourism businesses that have been able to implement a value strategy are reporting successful outcomes.

“Being able to implement a value strategy has been important to the success of many tourism businesses. The challenge going forward is to support the whole industry to lift productivity levels. Targeted value strategies have shown to provide a pathway for tourism to be able to return better outcomes for all stakeholders.”

Economic, environmental, social and cultural sustainability also featured prominently as a way of making a positive difference to tourism businesses.

However, the survey showed there continues to be a high level of concern about the relatively low level of capital investment in tourism infrastructure.

Mr Smiler added that when benchmarked internationally, concerns about the lack of investment in tourism infrastructure seem to be validated.

“The World Travel & Tourism Council reports that New Zealand’s travel and tourism capital investment in 2017 decreased by 0.3% in 2018 compared to 2017. At the same time, the global average increase was 4.5%.

“It is pleasing to see local and central government has acknowledged this issue and are starting to invest in local infrastructure. Further investment is urgently needed to enable growth and ensure host communities’ can cope with the forecast increase in visitors.”

Mr Roberts says the survey also revealed that people and skills are increasingly becoming an area of serious concern for many tourism businesses, directly impacting their ability to deliver a quality visitor experience.

“34% of tourism businesses said they relied on migrant labour to support their business and over half said visa issues were a significant issue.”

He says TIA’s 2019/20 business plan and strategic priorities, signed off by its Board recently, focus on addressing the industry priorities identified in the survey.

These include reinforcing the industry’s commitment to environmental, economic and social sustainability through the Tourism Sustainability Commitment, addressing the growing concern around workforce issues, and influencing funding and investment at both central and local government levels.

“We are also committed to fostering public support for tourism, and ensuring tourism makes a positive and enduring contribution to communities throughout Aotearoa.”

To read the New Zealand Tourism State of the Industry 2018, go to