Bob Haswell has been in the luxury accommodation game for almost 40 years. The former owner of a luxury fishing lodge, who now operates a private retreat in the Tasman District, there is no illusion that the disposable income of New Zealanders has been hit drastically, but he is optimistic about recovery.
He has experienced a global downturn caused by serious events in the past, including the September 2001 terrorist attack on the United States, which was preceded by fears of millennial insects, when tourists were afraid to fly.
Haswell acknowledges this crisis is different because of its potential long-term effects, but attention is shifting to a restrained market: Prospective guests are already here.
“At present, tourism in general in New Zealand is worth around $ 41 billion a year.
“Twenty-three billion of that comes from people traveling around their own country. I am sure there will be many Kiwis who say in the future, ‘I will go out and take vacations, and bring children around New Zealand’ . “
The NZ Stats Tourism Satellite Account, issued in December last year, shows that last year domestic tourists spent nearly $ 7b more on traveling in New Zealand than overseas visitors.
Annual expenditure from international tourism is $ 17.2 billion, and $ 23.7 billion from domestic tourists.
The annual GST paid by tourists is $ 3.8 billion, including $ 1.8 billion collected from international visitors.
Aotearoa Industry Industry chief executive Chris Roberts said New Zealand’s tourism spending is different from many overseas visitors, but the Kiwi is the backbone of the industry.
“The basis of our tourism industry is the Kiwi, so even without a single international visitor, we can still have a decent tourism industry here, built around New Zealand.”
Roberts said special high-class operators are very important for the country’s tourism banner, but they need to adapt if they want to attract more New Zealanders.
“If we can restore part of the visitor’s economy; make New Zealanders go out to see their own country, which will keep thousands of businesses running and will keep tens of thousands of New Zealanders at work.”
Based on the 2019 figures, tourism employs almost 230,000 people directly and 163,713 further indirectly in related and supporting industries.
The head of the industry group, Luxury Lodges of New Zealand, said for many people, the annual winter closing had come early.
Chris Sturgeon, who is also the general manager of Hapuku Lodge and Treehouses in Kaikōura, and used to operating in poor conditions after the 2016 earthquake, said the current crisis gave everyone time to think.
He said up to 20 percent of the luxury cottage sector business came from the domestic market, and they now hope to build it.
“Most lodges in New Zealand develop packages that focus on the Kiwis towards winter and spring – things like ‘stay three and pay two’ are classic ones where you can stay for three nights but pay two.”
Sturgeon said it would cost more than one vacation at a motel, but probably less than a vacation package to the Pacific that until now, was the usual winter fare for Kiwis on vacation.
“To be able to escape, eat some amazing food, some big company and live in a slightly special place – that’s what people will look for when we get out of this.”
Bob Haswell said he might divert the focus of his Ruby Bay retreat to markets close to the popular bicycle lane in the Tasman District.
“We will market ourselves a little differently. I have talked to innkeepers who usually have around 90 percent of international travelers. They will adjust a little differently and maybe lower their prices.”
The retail travel company First Travel Group said it had taken the lead from Air New Zealand – which said that once the lockdown was reduced and people were free to move more, domestic travel would be attractive to most New Zealanders looking for a vacation. .
General manager John Willson said the company was working on a future campaign with key partners to meet the needs of its customers to explore New Zealand.
“We believe it will take time for governments around the world to open more borders,” he said.
One of the group’s agents, Sue Ketel, said it was his desire that more New Zealanders could appreciate their own country.
“We recently went to Vietnam for three weeks and when we returned, the children were asked what are the three things they most value from returning home.
“They say: ‘can drink water from a tap, eat a green salad and know where it comes from, and can flush toilet paper down the toilet’.
“We see the fact that we are in four weeks of isolation and we are truly blessed with where we are and where we live.”
Chris Roberts said another positive side that might have happened that the Kiwi was visited by many foreign visitors, now might get a chance to visit.
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