Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fight for Aussie tourists

The government and Air New Zealand will be 50/50 partners in a $5 million stimulus boost to attract tourists from the Australian market to visit our shores.

Air New Zealand's $2.5 million contribution would appear to be "in kind" and consist of $2 million worth of internal travel tagged on to any trans-Tasman fare sold in Australia and 100 trans Tasman flights gifted to NZ RTO's to attract Australian media to visit their region.

The NZ government will contribute the remaining $2.5 million. Ignoring the government's majority shareholding in Air New Zealand, it would be interesting to compare the ROI by Air New Zealand and the New Zealand taxpayer. Unfortunately like most publically funded tourism marketing "investment" this is almost impossible to track.

Trans-Tasman rivalry is apparent with either side of the ditch attempting to out-stimulus the other. With the public attuned to cheap travel deals, hopefully more Australians will be tempted to visit New Zealand, than New Zealanders visiting Australia...


John Key and Air New Zealand will have their work cut out trying to lure more Australian tourists across the ditch.

Combined, the Prime Minister and national carrier today said they would splash out $5 million in an attempt to boost Aussie visitor numbers over autumn and winter as recession grips New Zealand's tourism sector.

But even with the additional money, added to the $9 million annual Tourism New Zealand marketing budget for Australia, they are likely to find the going tough.

Australia's A$83 billion tourism industry is in a slump and it's pulling out all stops to get Australians to travel around their own country. They're also desperately seeking to boost inbound visitor numbers, particularly kiwis.

Australia has an A$135.6 million (NZ$168 million) marketing budget and on top of that each state has its own budget.

South Australia alone, has tipped $4.5 million into its "Isn't It About Time" tourism marketing promotion aimed as much as Australians as international travellers.

Tasmania has just asked for an additional A$6 million for its tourism budget after weathering what it described as a particularly aggressive marketing campaign by New Zealand over summer.New Zealand, by comparison, has an $82.6 million (A$66.3 million) budget and of that $75 million is targeting at international marketing.

Television celebrities Petra Bagust and Robbie Magasivia are frequently on Australian television channels touting New Zealand's numerous attractions.Tourism Australia is forecasting a 4.5 percent drop in tourist numbers this year as its population, hit by recession, stays closer to home. But the number may be much higher, particularly this month and next where numbers are tipped to drop by as much as 15 percent.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics last month said short-term visitors to Australia fell 3.8 per cent in January compared with the year before.But a plus for New Zealand could be a call from Australian employers in many sectors of industry and business for staff to use up their accumulated holiday leave entitlements or risk losing them. On the minus side, even though trans-Tasman airfares are their lowest in more than a decade, the Australian government is considering lifting it's A$47 passenger departure charge, less than a year after it was hiked 24 percent.

This would be yet another sock to passengers wrestling with a barrage of fees and costs.Earlier today Air New Zealand's manager for short haul, Bruce Parton, said the national carrier would work with Tourism New Zealand to maximise opportunities to growing Australian visitor numbers during the traditionally quieter autumn period.

Parton said the majority government owned airline was working through details of a significant marketing campaign to give away more than $2 million in free domestic travel to any of its 27 New Zealand ports when sold in conjunction with a trans-Tasman fare sold in Australia. It's also offering up to 100 free return air fares to regional tourism organisations to attract Australian media to visit their regions.

And Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key said he was handing Tourism New Zealand $2.5 million immediately to boost promotion of New Zealand in Australia.

Key said this represented a more than one quarter increase on the existing $9 million investment in the Australian market. Key said it was being provided now so a campaign plan could be implemented for the low season.

"Australia generates nearly 40 percent of New Zealand's arrivals, and even small gains in demand will make a big difference," said Key.

"New Zealand tourism is operating in a very challenging environment because of the global economic crisis. However, I expect this investment to contribute an immediate injection of around $64 million to the New Zealand economy."

Key said the $2.5 million would be allocated across three areas. These included extending the 100 percent Pure New Zealand and 'What's On' activity in Australia to increase autumn and winter arrivals, increased public relations and working with industry groups to convert awareness of New Zealand into actual travel.
Key said the global recession should result in New Zealand becoming a more attractive holiday option for Australians as they tighten their belts and look at holidaying nearer to home.

"This additional funding will be specifically targeted to encourage them to choose New Zealand."

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