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NZ tourism meets challenges head-on

New Zealands tourism industry is meeting the challenges facing
it and is getting set for a cracker period of growth next year, Tourism
Industry Association Chief Executive Fiona Luhrs says.Though last years
record arrival numbers of 2.38 million visitors were only 1.5 percent up
on 2004, the tourism industry had shown in the past that it was
resilient and flexible enough to meet the challenges of a rapidly
changing world, Ms Luhrs said at TRENZ (Tourism Industry Rendezvous New
Zealand) 2006 today.TRENZ is New Zealands largest tourism business event
with more than 400 New Zealand tourism businesses gathering at the
Westpac Centre in Christchurch for three days of intensive business
activity.They are meeting with a similar number of international travel
and tourism buyers arriving from 33 countries to purchase accommodation,
transport, attractions and activities at wholesale rates, and include
them in holiday brochures and itineraries for forthcoming seasons.Ms
Luhrs told about 60 international and New Zealand journalists covering the event that
tourism is New Zealands largest foreign exchange earning industry and a
key driver of regional economic development.It had shown record growth
in the last few years, with a 25 percent increase in visitor numbers
since 2001.But the international tourism and travel environment that New
Zealand operators were part of was changing rapidly. Trends and issues
that confronting tourism operators included: - The growth in budget
airlines encouraging travellers to make more short-haul trips and
opening up new destinations to first-time international travellers
- Fluctuations in currency movements making it more attractive for New
Zealanders to travel overseas and making the United States a more
affordable destination- Increasing numbers of baby boomers with the
leisure time and wealth to travel, who demand high quality, personalised
experiences- New destinations being opened up including India, Cambodia,
Vietnam, China, and parts of Africa and South America and competing with
New Zealand for visitors- Technology which allowed instant reviews of
experiences and destinations to be instantly spread around the world
through email, chatrooms and blogs.- The growing influence of Chinese
travellers, with 100 million predicted to be heading overseas by 2020.Ms
Luhrs said her vision for New Zealands tourism industry in five years
would see it delivering export earnings of more than $9.5 billion, up 52
percent on today. Average expenditure per visitor would be up to $2990
up from $2662 today.This would be generated by 3.2 million international
visitors a year, an increase of 37.5 percent on today.We will never be a
mass market looking 10 years out, international visitor numbers are not
forecast to exceed about 3.5 million a year. The challenge is to keep
the quality up, to keep ahead of what our type of international visitors
want.She wanted to see New Zealand recognised worldwide as the
destination which had turned delivering world-class visitor experiences
into an art form.At home, she wanted tourism to be supported as the
service sector delivering the most significant economic growth into New
Zealands regions.To meet the changes, the industry was updating its
10-year industry strategy, the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010,
extending it to 2015.Westpac Bank Chief Economist Brendan ODonovan
recently said the tourism industry was headed for a cracker period of
growth from late 2007. Tourism is the fastest growing sector in the
world and the industry is working together to ensure New Zealand is well
positioned to attract its share of the global market, Ms Luhrs said.