Monday, March 23, 2009

Tourism industry calls for Kiwis to stay in NZ

Hands up if you can remember this campaign in 1984?

22 March 2009

A call has been made for Kiwis to spend their holidays in New Zealand instead of overseas to save jobs and businesses in the local tourism industry.

One in 10 New Zealanders relies on the tourism industry for work, a lot of people worried by a plummet in overseas visitors last month.

But tourism industry leaders say the answer lies in our own hands.

"We are also looking for New Zealanders to see a bit of New Zealand this year instead of having a winter holiday in the islands," says Bruce Robertson, Hospitality Association of New Zealand.

It is a move supported by the tourism minister.

"If people stay home it might be a nice idea," says John Key.

Tourism businesses are also heavily dependent on our neighbours - the number of Australians who visited last month was 2.5 percent more than the same time last year, and the Government is hoping a new ad campaign will keep them coming.

It is the rest of the world that is letting us down. Visitors from the UK dropped by 15 percent; from the US it was nearly 18 percent fewer; numbers from Korea fell by almost a third, and arrivals from Hong Kong plunged by more than half.

"Any drop in numbers does put jobs at risk, and livelihoods and businesses at risk," says Mr Robertson.

It is reflected behind the doors of hotels up and down the country, which have been battling falling numbers for five years. In 2006, three-quarters of rooms were full. But that has dropped every year since.

And this year, the New Zealand Hotel Council told 3 News most kept the same staffing levels since last winter instead of taking on extra, as they usually do, to cope with the summer demand.

"Tourism is a big part of our economy," says Mr Key. "It's nearly 20 percent of our entire foreign earnings, it is one in 10 jobs in the economy and 10 percent of our economy overall. So when tourism slows down, it does have a negative impact."

And if you think that impact adds up to bargains for holidaymakers, think again. The Tourism Industry Association tells its members not to discount their services, but to add value instead, such as offering a bottle of wine with bookings.

And however bad things seem, it says the full impact of the downturn won't be known until next summer.

Source: Click HERE

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