Charlie Ives Charlie Ives

Changing role of RTOs

A destination management lens, in consultation with all sectors and their communities, will be increasingly placed over everything regional tourism organisations (RTOs) do, says the retiring executive officer of Regional Tourism Organisations New Zealand (RTONZ).

Charlie Ives, who leaves the role on 24 December, says the trend was already evident in 2019 but has been accelerated by the advent of Covid.

‘When I took this position in 2008, RTOs were basically regional marketers, competing against each other to some degree though there was also collaboration. Technology has really changed the role of the RTO. Where previously they were lugging brochures around New Zealand and sometimes other parts of the world, they now have a digitally focused strategy.’

He says there has also been an increased focus on the total impact of tourism in a region, with a social licensing overlay and more consideration of the effect tourism has on the community as a whole. This is evident in the New Zealand Government Tourism Strategy as well as work within the industry itself.

Much of this was underway before the pandemic, but Ives says in a ‘weird sort of way’ the Covid crisis may add weight to plans, investments and actions that rejuvenate the industry in the long term.

‘Of course, the pandemic has devastated many regions and operators and the issues that all sectors of the industry are going through remain crippling. At least we are starting to see some light and a path for a gradual recovery built around borders opening, a vaccination passport regime, clear health and safety requirements and a return of confidence in travel.

‘Another positive is the way New Zealanders are starting to discover their own country. That has not replaced international tourism of course, but it has meant that Kiwis have found out the New Zealand is a fantastic place to tour.
I think that will continue.’

A destination management lens, in consultation with all sectors and their communities, will be increasingly placed over everything regional tourism organisations (RTOs) do, says the retiring executive officer of Regional Tourism Organisations New Zealand (RTONZ).

Charlie Ives, who leaves the role on 24 December, says the trend was already evident in 2019 but has been accelerated by the advent of Covid.

‘When I took this position in 2008, RTOs were basically regional marketers, competing against each other to some degree though there was also collaboration. Technology has really changed the role of the RTO. Where previously they were lugging brochures around New Zealand and sometimes other parts of the world, they now have a digitally focused strategy.’

He says there has also been an increased focus on the total impact of tourism in a region, with a social licensing overlay and more consideration of the effect tourism has on the community as a whole. This is evident in the New Zealand Government Tourism Strategy as well as work within the industry itself.

Much of this was underway before the pandemic, but Ives says in a ‘weird sort of way’ the Covid crisis may add weight to plans, investments and actions that rejuvenate the industry in the long term.

‘Of course, the pandemic has devastated many regions and operators and the issues that all sectors of the industry are going through remain crippling. At least we are starting to see some light and a path for a gradual recovery built around borders opening, a vaccination passport regime, clear health and safety requirements and a return of confidence in travel.

‘Another positive is the way New Zealanders are starting to discover their own country. That has not replaced international tourism of course, but it has meant that Kiwis have found out the New Zealand is a fantastic place to tour.
I think that will continue.’

ProMag