Trish May, RTNZ Inbound Trade Event organiser; Kirsty Davies, Regional Tourism New Zealand; Lynda Keene, Tourism Export Council New Zealand Trish May, RTNZ Inbound Trade Event organiser; Kirsty Davies, Regional Tourism New Zealand; Lynda Keene, Tourism Export Council New Zealand

Positives for inbound

Tourism numbers over summer have met the expectations of the inbound trade, but still have a way to go before they reach pre-pandemic figures, says Lynda Keene, CEO of the Tourism Export Council (TEC) of New Zealand.

Speaking at the ‘chokker block’ Regional Tourism New Zealand (RTNZ) two-day event in Auckland this week, Keene says the visitors were actually spending more with tourism operators than they had before 2020 – but that too comes with a caveat.

‘Although we are seeing spend tracking about 20% to 30% higher than before, to a certain extent that reflects higher prices for accommodation, transport, accommodation, activities and attractions due to inflation.

‘We have to be careful, we don’t want to price ourselves out of the global market. All it would take would be something like a drop in the US dollar to have a (negative) impact.’

Keene says operators have a ‘great sense of relief’ that year two of the recovery has been fairly strong.

She says that for many in the sector it is now time to pay back the three-year interest free loans they gained to keep them in business during Covid border closures and lockdowns.

‘So the revenue is up but a percentage of it will need to be used to pay back the extra debt they took on.’

She says Covid did at least have one silver lining for the whole travel and tourism distribution chain.

‘People offshore coming to New Zealand are increasingly using local travel agents who in turn are dealing with reputable inbound operators. The client care element of travel has taken on a new meaning. That’s the same with New Zealanders travelling outbound.’

Regional events a ‘record’

The success of the RTNZ Inbound Trade Event at the Hilton indicates that the market has buoyancy and that operators are keen to learn and explore new opportunities around the country.

The day sessions were quickly filled by early registrations, meaning a casual evening function was added for those who missed out.

All regional tourism organisations except one were represented and the attendees primarily represented inbound companies, though there were also travel brokers and retailers in attendance.

Organiser Trish May says the three sessions attracted about 200 trade.

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