Despite difficult operating conditions, travel continued to perform well in 2019, driven by growth in both arrivals and departures. New Zealand continues to be viewed as a reliable and mature tourism destination, but 2019 was not without its challenges.
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of internet usage and penetration in the world and, as such, it is perhaps unsurprising that growth in online sales continued to outperform offline sales in 2019. Online sales growth was driven by increasing levels of outbound and domestic travel by digitally savvy New Zealanders.
While the review period saw a strong performance from airlines in New Zealand, with record growth in the number of airlines flying to New Zealand, difficult operating conditions driven by increasing fuel prices meant that the number of airlines flying to New Zealand decreased in 2019. Both Hong Kong Airlines and Air Asia pulled out of New Zealand – for Air Asia, this was its second time withdrawing services to New Zealand in five years – citing increased competition and fuel prices as the driving factors.
One of the biggest concerns surrounding travel and tourism over the course of the review period was that while the country was experiencing a tourism boom, it was also encountering an infrastructure deficit due to underinvestment. Announced in the 2019 budget by the Labour Government, a NZD35 per person charge will be levied on international tourists staying in the country for 12 months or less, which is expected to raise over NZD450 million over the forecast period, to be invested in conservation and tourist infrastructure and systems, lodging, car parks, camping grounds, public restrooms and roads.
Visitor numbers are expected to continue to grow over the forecast period, although the CAGR for inbound arrivals is expected to be down on that seen in the review period, with this expected to be attributable to increasing competition from Southeast Asian destinations. That being said, growth is still expected, and this is expected to be driven by Tourism New Zealand’s efforts to increase tourism numbers through shoulder seasons, as well as a strategy focused on more regional disbursement of visitors to ease pressure on tourism infrastructure such as lodging, car parks, camping grounds, public restrooms and roads.
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