It was very pleasing to visit Rotorua this month along with the regional promotion and tourism team and get a first-hand look at TRENZ, New Zealand’s largest annual tourism industry three-day event (May10-13) for ourselves.
Northland region was well represented by 12 tourism businesses including three first-timers, underlining just how well the $30 billion industry is performing with continued unprecedented growth.
Projections from new forecasts released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) at TRENZ show that tourism expenditure is set to grow by 65 per cent to $16 billion in 2022.
Those projections come on the back of the latest International Visitor Arrival statistics which show that annual visitor arrivals for the year-ended April 2016 were up 10.6 percent to 3.3 million,
In addition, the MBIE International Visitor Survey shows total international spend up 25 per cent for the year ending March 2016 pushing total spend to over $10 billion for the first time, reflecting the very healthy state of the industry.
There have also been recent changes to the methodology / calculations used by MBIE to provide estimates of tourism expenditure resulting in changes to the estimated value of tourism expenditure in Northland.
These estimates show the figures increasing from $661m in 2015 to $830m in 2016. In fact many regions’ estimates of spend have gone down but in Northland the estimates reveal that tourism impact on the regional economy has been underestimated. Northland now ranks sixth in tourism spend.
Add to that the government’s decision to keep the tourism pot boiling with the Prime Minister announcing at TRENZ that in 2016 budget it will invest a further $20 million over the next four years, in addition to the more than $130 million a year that is already spent.
So the current buoyancy in tourism was reflected strongly at TRENZ 2016 where some 300 local exhibitors were pitching to over 350 international tourism buyers from 28 countries through a huge 18,000 15-minute meetings, and the response to Northland’s presence was extremely positive..
It was also the same week when the Commercial Accommodation figures for March were released by Statistics New Zealand which showed Northland leading the country with an increase of 30.2 percent in March guest nights up from 163,618 to 213,071.
There is no doubt that as the Northland tourism industry goes from strength-to-strength our focus is on shoulder season growth and product and infrastructure development which adds all-year-round tourism appeal and capability.
Work is ongoing on developing attractions such as the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park, the Hundertwasser Art Centre and Wairau Maori Art gallery in Whangarei and its associated Folly – Te Kakano on which work has commenced.
It was pleasing too that this month -- Te Kōngahu – the new museum of Waitangi (along with Kaiapoi Museum) -- was jointly announced as the best project winner in the Service IQ 2016 New Zealand Museum Awards for its refit design as it continues to impress as a tourist attraction.
There are also other projects in the works like Manea, the Footprints of Kupe in Opononi, the Waipoua Forest Trail attraction, The Twin Coast Discovery (TCD) route revitalisation and its associated Pou Trail, all of which are designed to add more attractions to the Northland tourism scene.
The best is that we will be able to provide updates on our progress on the shoulder season projects to international tourism buyers at next year’s TRENZ conference so roll on Auckland, May 2017.