Tourism Forgotten As A Valued Export Sector

Published: Tue 17 Jan 2012 05:39 PM
Tourism Forgotten As A Valued Export Sector
For many tourism operators working long haul markets, the high value of the NZD is like a poker hot enema.
Over the weekend I watched Bernard Hickey from reporting on TV1 where he suggested that Standard & Poor's mass ratings downgrade of euro zone members is not good news for Kiwi exporters and that the news had already sent the Kiwi dollar soaring against all its major trading partners, heading for an unprecedented 63 cents against the euro.
Predicting Kiwi exporters ‘could be facing a miserable start to 2012’ and commenting that ‘those exporting into Europe will really struggle at those sorts of rates’. He was suggesting also the silver lining was that the price of that German sports car will be tumbling in New Zealand. Ironically however, obtaining one is actually looking less likely for tourism entrepreneurs who rely on European markets.
Mr Hickey goes on to remind us though, that less than 10% of our exports go to Euro zone countries. Made me wonder, has Mr Hickey factored Tourism into this calculation? Does that 10% include tourism revenue from the Eurozone? So I called him. And no it didn’t, – based on Export merchandising statistics only. Mr Hickey was a nice bloke to talk to, very interested in my comments, but like many commentators who talk business and export, including tourism in his export commentary clearly wasn’t a natural instinct.
This is the perfect example of why after 40 years (01 March 2012), ITOC is changing it name to ‘Tourism Export Council of New Zealand’. We’re exporters! Just like any other exporter, the Tourism sector promotes and sell’s New Zealand product off-shore to off-shore buyers, we’re paid from off shore and bring new money into the New Zealand economy. In fact our marketing message actually promotes indirectly all New Zealand products and exporters.
As major players in that camp, we need to be painted into Mr Hickeys ‘those exporting into Europe will really struggle at those sorts of rates’ picture – because we’ll be hurting too, feeling it now in fact.
Depending on who you listen to, over the last few years we’ve duelled it out with the cockies to be New Zealand’s biggest export sector. Right now I understand we’re back in second place – but regardless of our position on the podium, tourism is invaluable to the success of our export driven economy - and it all starts with recognition.
In 2 years from January 2011, the NZD has grown in strength by 21% against the euro, add to that the cost of oil (crude increased 65% in that time) and flying here, New Zealand is a significantly more expensive proposition for the Europeans than it was 24 months ago – and that’s not good for the Tourism Export community. Stay night figures from Tourism New Zealand, year end at 30 September show 50.7 million visitor stay nights in New Zealand, 6.1 million (12%) from Eurozone and a thumping 14.5 million (28.6%) from EU members. All that from only 18% of visitor arrivals – yip, nobody disperses throughout New Zealand or stays longer than the EU member visitors. We love em.
These traditional markets remain critically important to tourism in New Zealand, for many are our bread and butter. We simply cannot afford to say ‘too hard’ and not invest. I realise the targets across the orient will be easier to see and hit, but even in what is a very challenging period in wider Europe - we need continued investment, now maybe even more than ever.
The rattily pockets housing our marketing dollars are only so deep. I can’t help but think China growth is going to happen even with less expenditure, and maybe some of the money being spent in that market should be targeted back to the long stay, high spending market that is Europe – Eurozone and also non Eurozone Europe. It won’t be easy – but declining arrivals from Europe will affect every corner of New Zealand.
TNZ continue to support Europe trade shows, have invested further in there UK office and have signalled a trade mission to Eastern Europe for 2012 – that’s all good. But I reckon, we need more.

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