International visitor arrivals figures released last monthshow that inbound tourism is running at a record level. Over the year to July2013, there were 2.65 million overseas visitor arrivals, 0.4% more than theprevious record a year earlier when tourist numbers were boosted by the hostingof the Rugby World Cup.
Although the number of overseasvisitor arrivals has risen to well above its pre-Global Financial Crisis level,international guest nights are languishing at a low level. This article delvesinto the factors driving this divergence and assesses what effect changinginternational visitors’ travel patterns are having on tourism activity in NewZealand’s regions.
If you’ve ever sat on a train inexplicably stopped 500m from Wellington Railway Station, you’ve probably pondered the merits of public transport. Why not drive instead? And how much extra would you be willing to pay if the public transport was reliable?
Enock Mamwambo has been stockpiling goats in anticipation of the Soccer World Cup. He sells his wire and bead animals at the Pretoria Farmers Market and like so many small business owners was hoping for a bonanza from the inflow of tourists. Nearly three weeks into the tournament he has sold only two of the 23 animals he spent six months making.
During a time when the tourism sector has been struggling, Statistics NZ data shows that the number of visitor arrivals from Australia topped one million in the year to May 2009 for the first time. Although this milestone is a great one to have reached, the sheer number of people coming across the border isn’t the only factor that affects our economy’s tourism earnings – the make-up of those visitors is also important. Over the last decade, the make-up of those visitors has changed, and as far as our economy is concerned, this change has not been a beneficial one.
John Key is so passionate about tourism that he made himself Minister of Tourism. The reason for his passion is obvious. It is an industry that builds on our uniqueness. Our magnificent landscapes, safe environment and low population density offer a unique experience to the tourist. But despite its obvious positives it is not clear that tourism sits comfortably in our vision of becoming a high-wage, high-skilled economy.