One morning per week, I will dedicate time to read the research and findings by Tourism New Zealand (aka 100% Pure New Zealand). Their latest report looked at how likely it is Australian Active Considerers (ACs) will travel New Zealand within set periods.
These are Australians that aren’t part of the group 100% sure they’re coming here – this is the wider population.
As you may know, the NZ and Australian Government is getting close to deciding on a date to open up our Tasman bubble. Unfortunately, that date will come on April 6th; the beginning of our winter season. It’s also evident that neither government wants to fully cooperate. Prime minister Jacinda Ardern has reminded kiwi holiday makers in Australia that they’ll need to consider their own way should lockdowns occur.
Tourism New Zealand has reported that up to 60% of those surveyed will come to New Zealand for a holiday within the next six months. 56% said they’ll be coming ‘to have fun & enjoy myself’, while ‘holidaying’ topped the score board as with 82% confirming the reason to come to NZ.
Travel New Zealand, or travel home?
A theme that they gloss over in the report is the preference from Australians to travel domestically. Like kiwis, they’re proud of their country and while they want to holiday, they also want to support locally. One statistic shows 42% of those surveyed would prefer to travel domestically.
Skip to the final page and you see the report rounded off with some pessimistic feedback from those surveyed. When asked what concerns they may have with a trans-taman safe travel zone, some commented:
Airline companies and tourist areas fleecing those trying to go there.
All travel concerns me at the moment, and I’m sceptical until I’m protected with a vaccine.
New Zealand is OK but we need to open our domestic borders first.
I think we need to look after Australia first.
I believe all international flights should be banned until COVID-19 is over, if it will ever be over.
I’m personally not sure why the report needed to include these comments (or at least not balance them out with positive feedback so we get a wider picture – maybe there were no positives). What I see here is a shared concern about their own country before holidaying in another – and I don’t blame them.
When dealing with a tourism marketing agency late last year, I floated the idea of advertising straight through to Australians as well as domestic to start building up a presence. I was met with “even [our biggest client] isn’t doing that. Let’s stick to domestic”.
To this day, I’m still perplexed by this.
This is where we’re going wrong in the New Zealand tourism industry. We all waited to see how the domestic market would respond over the holidays (poorly), we learnt that the hard way and did not have a plan or react quick enough to start looking at other options.
By the way, Bushman Tours isn’t exempt from that. We too didn’t act quick enough.
So, what needs to change and how do we better support our Australian cousins?
A better way to travel New Zealand
I believe it starts with putting our money where our mouths are. It means not just talking about our hygiene measures, but advertising how we’re doing this. This video by Tourism NZ is designed to remind Australians “how we winter”. It’s clever, but it says absolutely nothing about how we’re preparing for them to come over, to feel safe and healthy.
Considering that 67% of travellers said hand sanitiser being available was their biggest concern for hygiene, you’d think TNZ would have taken advice from their own survey and promoted this?
I now also believe we should stop putting any funding into the domestic market. Winter will repeat much the same way it did in 2020. Kiwis will remind themselves of the epic ski season of 2020 when the slopes were available all to themselves. The same should happen this year (most of my friends have/intend to get their season passes). So, we should focus our attention on the international audience for the later half of winter and the summer season.
There is a big, big push on sustainable tourism and operators changing the way they do business. We completely agree with this message.
In the book 100% Pure Future, New Zealand Tourism Renewed by Sarah Bennett, the message reiterated throughout is the intensity required to turn the industry into something more sustainable for New Zealand. I sense that the importance of this will echo throughout our government, and as such funding will find its way to operators and suppliers who can prove their policies and procedures match this.
Qualmark is already reviewing sustainable suppliers with a close lens. This team of travel experts ask the hard questions and make you prove that what you’re doing is sustainable. It’s awesome.
I found these latest reports interesting and my feeling is that, yes, we can open up the borders and see a trickle come in, but it’ll be wealthy Australians with a batch, or businessmen. We’re still 6+ months away from true travel once they are open.
With that said, I could be wrong (I hope I’m wrong). We have a lot of Aussie followers. If you’re one, let us know your intentions in the comments or send us an email – we’d love to know what the real consensus is right now.