Tourism Marketing Ideas for Regional Councils

tourism marketing help Regional Councils to ensure the benefit of New Zealand’s tourist marketVisits to New Zealand are increasing at a rate faster than international economic and social factors would indicate, with $6.6billion arriving into the country in 2013 via tourist spending. However, what is less obvious is the $9.8billion spent by domestic tourism over the same period (Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment’s Domestic Traveller Survey 2013). Whilst many look directly to their share of international travel, domestic dollars are being missed through unfocussed tourism marketing.

On the international front, the long-haul nature of trips to New Zealand for European, Chinese and American travellers means that there is a well-documented desire to ‘see as much as possible’, with holidays largely being taken in more than one region. This ensures that many regions are pigeon-holed, quite usefully for some, as being able to provide certain aspects of the New Zealand experience – the beaches of Northland, the wine of Marlborough, the Maori culture of the Bay of Plenty, Northland and The East Cape or the adventure sports of Otago. And of course, attracting a staggering 14% of all of 2013’s international visitors to New Zealand; the Lord of the Rings franchise.

According to the Ministry for Business, Innovation & Employment, the reasons influencing the decision to travel to New Zealand as a whole are less clear. With 10% of those interviewed for the International Traveller Survey stating ‘sightseeing’, and a further 10% stating ‘walking & trekking’ as their primary reason for travel, it seems that without having specific regional attractions and natural resources, it will be hard to influence tourist choices. This is especially true when looking at other obvious reasons for travel, including golf, snow sports or fishing, which affect just 1% of those interviewed.

However, figures produced within the same survey for activities that visitors actually participated in during a stay only partially support these findings. Walking, trekking and visiting natural attractions all feature in well over 50% of international visits, and can therefore be listed as main attractions with some certainty. Volcanic/geothermal attractions feature in almost one third of visits, yet do not appear in lists of factors influencing traveller behaviour, which is also the case with visiting galleries and boating. This shows that in many cases, visitors minds are not set before they arrive, and the opportunity for tourism marketing is huge.

Planning Success from Tourism Marketing

Whilst trends show a gradual increase in tourist numbers arriving into New Zealand since 1990, there have been noticeable short term peaks during both the British Lion’s tour and the Rugby World Cup, further emphasising the well-documented success of ‘mega-events’ in causing tourism led regeneration. Whilst hosting events of this magnitude and impact on a regional scale is both impractical and unlikely, there remain lessons to be learnt at regional level. These are especially important when the size of the sometimes overlooked domestic travel market is considered. Recurring events and cultural festivals have had a dramatic affect in areas around the world, for example the SXSW Festival in Texas, La Tomatina in Valencia, or, on a smaller and more localised scale, through the re-emergence of Highland Games in Western Scotland.

Regional councils are going to be hard pushed to make a significant impact on International patterns of travel. International tourists are likely to remain influenced by national campaigns (100% Pure New Zealand) or by internationally famous attractions like the adventure sports of Queenstown or the volcanic springs of Rotorua. Having said that, a well-focussed campaign, highlighting a specific aspect of the ‘New Zealand experience’ to foreign visitors will have a beneficial impact; driving tourists towards certain regions as a small part of their larger tour of the country. However, a focus on the huge domestic tourist market in New Zealand will undoubtedly have the greatest impact on attracting so-far unseen tourist dollars.

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