With new projections for New Zealand tourism sector recovery suggesting it could be 2024 before the industry gets close to its ‘new normal’, Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) has released a Tourism Industry Roadmap showing how the industry recovery might progress over the next few years.
Delivering the Roadmap to an online audience of more than 400 attending the opening of Tourism Summit Aotearoa, TIA chief executive, TIA chief executive Chris Roberts said the Roadmap aims to provide guidance by industry for industry, so that tourism businesses can plan for a range of potential pathways.
“Even if operators disagree or will make up their own minds, this Roadmap work will form a basis for their own business planning. Not many government or private sector analysts are covering tourism so this information may also be used to ensure better consideration of tourism across a wide range of processes,” Mr Roberts said.
“We know it will be a step-by-step process but the best way to get moving on the road ahead is to complete the first few small steps safely and swiftly.”
Drawing on the opinions and expertise of two dozen tourism leaders, the Roadmap analysis shows there is a $16 billion potential additional loss in foreign exchange earnings if there are delays to the removal of border restrictions.
“$26 billion in earnings from international visitors has already been lost since border restrictions began in February 2020. The analysis suggests a further $23b loss in the next three years, but this could balloon to $39b if our reconnection to the world is delayed.”
The Roadmap shows there is still strong demand for travel to New Zealand but the sector needs to be able to signal the way forward to international markets with long lead times needed to rebuild high quality air connectivity which said could take years to rebuild.
The new normal for travel is shaping up around the world but New Zealand is on the edge in terms of logistics, connections and potentially decision making, according to the Roadmap expert group
Government policy settings will continue to be strongly influential over the next 12 months but New Zealand is a safe destination and there is pent-up demand. The impact of new virus variants on global travel is identified as creating additional uncertainty.
By 2023, the main challenges are expected to be availability and cost of air travel, as well as international competition from other visitor destinations. But a partial recovery is expected, with a return to the new normal in 2024.
“We are certainly not taking these projections as set in concrete. TIA will continue to advocate strongly to government to achieve the best possible outcomes for our industry, which was the first to be hit by the pandemic and will be the last to recover,” Mr Roberts said.