New research into what Kiwis want from tourism and domestic holidays has been released to help the industry adjust to the impact of Covid-19 on borders and international travel.
Tourism Minister, Stuart Nash, says research commissioned by Crown entity, Tourism New Zealand, will help the industry better understand how to focus on domestic tourists until it is safe to open the nation’s borders again.
Attractions previously taken for granted
“The research found Kiwis are looking much more closely at their own backyard and at regions and attractions they may have taken for granted in the past,” Nash said.
“Domestic tourists have different expectations from international travellers, although there is much common ground. Like international tourists, domestic travellers are attracted by our special qualities like landscapes and friendly people, and our safe reputation.”
But he noted that domestic tourists are put off by activities that are perceived as too expensive. Their experience is spoiled if it feels too ‘touristy’.
Kiwis inclined to seek out history and culture
Kiwi travellers were also more inclined to seek out local history and culture, hidden gems that are not well known, and personal connections.
“Domestic travellers want more unique experiences. The research shows an ideal regional holiday involves a personalised itinerary. It combines activities like walking, cycling, and food and beverage experiences with events [such as] a cultural performance, festival or sports,” the minister explained.
The study also showed there is work to be done to champion the unique tourism experiences of local destinations. For example, researchers suggest an area like Rotorua, with its health spas, could be a ‘fly and flop’ destination to rival holidays that Kiwis used to take in Bali or Fiji.
Tourism was under a different set of pressures
“Significantly, the research confirms Kiwis thought tourism was under pressure even before Covid closed our borders,” Nash said.
“They saw regions struggling with the sheer number of visitors, and problems with freedom camping and littering. The research suggests pressure on infrastructure and the environment had created a tipping point for tourism.”
He added: “Tourism operators also suggested some in the industry had focused too much on profits and neglected the quality of the experience and tourism’s impact on small communities. Others had undervalued the role of Māori culture and needed to better connect with it.”