With New Zealand moving into level 2, regions are now turning their attention to switching on the visitor flows. Campaigns to encourage ’buy local’ are underway and Tourism New Zealand is working on a domestic campaign in an effort to adapt New Zealanders mind-set when it comes to holidaying in their own country and to encourage them to get out there and explore. There is no doubt that reigniting the visitor economy is critical as we have gone from hero to zero in the space of a few short weeks. But surely we owe it to our sector to not just dive straight into a race to the bottom through discounted deals and tactics.
We also need to take advantage of this unprecedented situation to step back and look at our industry. To re-evaluate what success looks like and make the bold and brave moves to adjust the alignment of the industry to achieve that success. Let’s take a look at how our country can more definitively position itself internationally as a visitor destination based on New Zealand’s values. What is our country purpose? Let’s live it and breathe it and use this time to reframe our destiny so the effort we put in now to re-establish will ensure we can look forward to a brighter more resilient future as visitor volumes return.
Now more than ever both New Zealand as a country and its regions need to re-evaluate their intent for tourism. Let’s bring our communities in to the conversation so they can be part of the outcome rather than ‘have tourism done to them’ as has been the sentiment of some in the past. We have the opportunity to wrap the well-being of communities and meaningful partnerships with iwi into how we define and position our places.
We know people are one of our biggest assets along with our landscapes. We should be supporting iwi, communities and businesses to deliver genuinely engaging experiences that can build connections with locals, be shared with New Zealanders and when the time comes, be sought after and respected by the rest of the world.
This means there has never been a more important time for regions to re-assess their approach to future visitor attraction at both a regional and business level. Let’s learn from the mistakes of the past, avoid the speed bumps we know are there waiting and channel our energies into planning with purpose. We can re-emerge with resilience and value that will prove tourism is a ‘must-have’ driver of regional economies.
See how TRC approaches Destination Management Planning here