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Poor summer weather and the effects of Rugby World Cup 2011 have left many tourism operators feeling the chill through the peak season.
According to a survey* by the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA), less than 50% of tourism operators said their summer trade exceeded expectations. Almost 10% of operators said they had an excellent summer, while 37% said it was good.
However, 26% rated the summer season as only fair and a similar number rated it as poor or very poor.
The poor weather through much of New Zealand, especially in the North Island, affected many operators, particularly those providing outdoor activities. Some operators said normal visitor patterns had been disrupted by RWC 2011.
“There was a definite pattern of market displacement due to RWC 2011. TIA members are telling us that visitors from some of our key markets timed their trip to coincide with the tournament, so we didn’t see the normal peak season pattern,” TIA Policy & Research Manager Simon Wallace says.
“However, TIA is confident that hosting RWC 2011 will provide long-term benefits for the tourism industry, which will outweigh any short-term disruptions. It’s clear from the survey results that the lack of a major event in 2012 is contributing to uncertainty among operators about what the next 12 months will bring.”
Just over half of the survey respondents expected the next 12 months would be positive for their business, but the remainder said they either did not expect positive outcomes or did not know.
The majority of respondents also said the high New Zealand dollar was negatively affecting how much international visitors spent in this country. This reflects a recent Statistics New Zealand survey which found the high exchange rate was hampering exporters.
“While the exchange rate is beyond our control, we are looking forward to the international release of The Hobbit at the end of the year. This will provide enormous exposure for New Zealand around the world. However, attracting higher spending visitors who stay longer will be key to helping make the next 12 months positive for tourism businesses,” Mr Wallace says.
TIA has set out its priorities for government action to support the $23 billion tourism industry in Tourism Future 2011-14 www.tianz.org.nz/nztourismfuture The association is working in partnership with the government to achieve those priorities and increase tourism’s contribution to New Zealand’s economy, he says.
* The survey was conducted with TIA members in March 2012. Almost 250 members took part.