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Pivot: Shifting focus from international to domestic tourism

By Feast Creative

It’s been a while since we’ve written about trends in New Zealand tourism. Reading back through that post now, six months on, feels incredibly surreal. While we’d been preparing for a downturn in tourism back then, we had no idea the changes we’d experience in 2020.

As you’re well aware, the world is now a much different place than it was those few short months ago. Data came out last week showing international arrivals to New Zealand in May, were the lowest they’ve been in 61 years! We had just 5,600 arrivals this past May, compared to 461,650 in May of 2019. The graphs are shocking – but not unexpected these days:

Of those May arrivals, about three-fourths were New Zealand citizens, while the other quarter were mainly families of New Zealand citizens and essential workers. In other words, the international travel market has all but disappeared in New Zealand.

While the disappearance of international visitors is shocking, New Zealand is also in an extremely fortunate position to be essentially living a “normal life.” Contrary to the majority of the rest of the world, and as a result of the combined efforts of our team of five million, we can gather freely with friends and family, enjoy dining in restaurants, celebrate weddings and birthdays, get back to group sport – both watching and participating, and more.

We are fortunate here in New Zealand to have been able to return to “life as normal,” however consumer attitudes and behaviours have changed with this global event. Likely as a result of “lockdown” experiences, people expect to continue spending more time socialising with family than they had in the past (29% of internet users aged 16 to 64 in 18 countries, including New Zealand), more time cooking (24%), and more time watching (23-24% – i.e. news, streaming content, videos). We’ve also seen a shift towards domestic travel. 73% of people report feeling optimistic about the domestic situation and 44% of New Zealanders plan to take more vacations in the country.

This new reality means we now have an amazing, and arguably long overdue, opportunity to focus on domestic tourism.

Sources: StatsNZ, MBIE, GlobalWebIndex

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