O’Sullivan says the decision to remove the leisure side of the tourism body’s branch in Auckland 18 months ago so it could refocus on the business sector is paying dividends. Latest figures show there has been an around 16% rise in events and incentives from New
Zealand, he says.
Overall, Kiwi visitor numbers are up 3% in 2016 to 1.3 million and they are staying an average of 13 nights, which represents an A$2.7 billion economic win for Australia. Broken down, 74% of Kiwis are leisure or VFR travellers and 17% come on business.
While New Zealand remains the largest visiting market for Australia, the Chinese are nipping at Kiwi heels. Arrivals from China were up 17% to 1.19 million and expenditure rose 11% last year.
O’Sullivan describes the Kiwi statistics as ‘consistently great,’ adding the New Zealand market is mature and reliable.
‘It’s stable. While it’s up 3% now, in other years it is up as much as 8%.’
However, 11 new airlines into New Zealand are giving Kiwis opportunities to travel further and for much less. When pressed on increased competition, O’Sullivan remains optimistic that Australia’s states are doing enough to win Kiwis over.
He adds Tourism Australia wants Kiwis to experience destinations outside the usual hotspots such as Sydney, citing Air New Zealand’s decision to fly a Dreamliner to Adelaide from 26 October as a recent opportunity to enchance regional dispersal. Singapore Airlines’
Wellington to Canberra run is another example of Kiwis branching out across the country, he adds.
Meanwhile, O’Sullivan says the Rugby 7s, Vivid and Melbourne Cup remain among the top events that will pull Kiwis across the ditch.