Kaikoura Star - Kaikoura tourism a seasonal success story

Columns
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Kaikoura's tourist operators have come to the end of another busy visitor season with very happy smiles on their faces.

And for good reason - by all accounts, the season was a bumper one and, importantly, it was also longer than usual, stretching well into autumn.

Extending our peak season is a great way to increase our total visitor numbers while using our already existing tourist infrastructure.

Kaikoura has plenty to offer its visitors once summer is over.

Whale watching tours, the big drawcard for many international visitors, continue year-round, and those majestic views for which Kaikoura is known are enhanced by fresh snow on the mountain tops.

It's up to us to let people know we don't close for business when summer is over.

Marketing ourselves to visitors as a destination every month of the year, rather than attracting more when tourism infrastructure is already stretched to capacity, makes a lot of sense, particularly for a largely tourism-based economy like Kaikoura's.

What we want is more consistency by spreading our visitors out over the 12-month period.

It's creating and sustaining jobs, it means extended employment for those working in the traditionally seasonal tourism sector, and it's great for Kaikoura's economy.

For that reason Tourism New Zealand has been focusing most of its campaign funding on promoting the shoulder seasons of autumn and spring.

So far that approach appears to be working: An increasing number of visitors from our key markets, such as China, the United States and Australia, are choosing to visit New Zealand at different times of the year.

Currently, our spring and autumn shoulder seasons are growing faster than our peak summer season.

In fact this May, traditionally a quieter month for international visitors, saw a 17 percent rise in visitor numbers on the previous year. Visitors from China were up 27.4 percent, and arrivals from the US were up 10.5 percent.

In Queenstown, the autumn lull between the summer and winter skiing seasons will be filled with the arrival of 10,000 Amway China sales staff for the next several years.

From 2018, they will arrive in groups of 500 and stay five days to attend training seminars.

This was not a chance opportunity: Announced by Prime Minister John Key during his visit to China, it was a collaborative effort between Tourism New Zealand, Queenstown Lakes District Council, Destination Queenstown, Immigration New Zealand and Air New Zealand.

Although Queenstown-based, New Zealand as a whole will benefit.

Having had a taste of one of our most beautiful regions, undoubtedly many will be tempted to return for a longer New Zealand holiday.

And when they do, Kaikoura will surely be on their itinerary.