The 2018 Tourism Satellite Account tells us that since 2010, the value of New Zealand’s tourism sector has grown from $25.6 billion to $39.1 billion per annum, with particularly high growth experienced between 2014 and 2018. International visitor spending has increased by 54.9% since 2014, on the back of a 38.8% increase in international visitor arrivals over the same period. In 2018, the international tourism sector’s contribution to total export goods and services was 20.6% or $16.2 billion. Tourism is also a significant employer, with 13.5% of New Zealand’s workforce, or 365,316 New Zealanders, either directly or indirectly working in tourism.
There can be no doubt that tourism is a major contributor to the New Zealand economy. A further benefit of the sector is the broad economic value it brings across all regions of New Zealand, aligning strongly with the Government’s regional economic development aspirations.
Internationally, New Zealand is viewed as a friendly, safe and beautiful country to visit. The richness of Māori culture is seen as a point of differentiation for New Zealand’s tourism proposition and is increasingly reported as one of the highlights of international visitors’ time in New Zealand.
Because of New Zealand’s geographic isolation, the key factor that affects our ability to increase international visitor arrivals is air connectivity. The passenger volumes and routes of airlines that fly to New Zealand are undeniably linked to the flow of international visitors to our shores. In recent years, New Zealand has experienced growth in direct flights from new markets, such as China and Indonesia, which have supported growth in visitors from those countries in addition to our traditional markets.
As we look forward, there are a number of ‘headwinds’ the New Zealand tourism industry must weather over the coming years. Arising from both macro global trends and New Zealand-specific circumstances, the tourism sector in New Zealand has a number of challenges it must overcome to ensure a sustainable future.