are kiwis really killing tourism?


Shop owners around Rarotonga have been complaining for months that tourism has died compared with previous years.
And they’ve been blaming an increased number of “Kiwis” - New Zealanders – as a big part of the problem.
Latest available tourism statistics show 8,840 visitors in July with 5,876 coming from New Zealand.
This represents two thirds of all arrivals, or two thirds.
In its newsletter, Tourism states, “The growth in New Zealand visitor arrivals has compensated for the lacklustre performance of other markets effected by a number of external variables.”
Has it?
So it might seem.


Turnover declared to Inland Revenue for the first six months of 2005 is in fact up slightly over the same six months in 2004.
Declared turnover increased from $220.5 million to $222.8 million.
Agriculture and fisheries recorded the biggest percentage increase, with 17% more revenues declared.
This sector turned over $4.8 million in the first six months of 2005.
Wholesale and retail traders were the biggest dollar earners, turning over $101.4m, compared with $91.6m for the same time last year.
Traders dominate the economy, making up 45% of all declared turnover selling mostly imported goods, most of that food.


However the construction industry plunged 27%, followed by bar and restaurant owners who earned 16% less.
Transport and communication and mining and manufacturers also recorded losses in declared revenues.
Perhaps most revealing was revenue figures from hotel and motel owners who recorded one per cent less revenue in a tourism-led private sector.
Statistics Cook Islands reports occupancy levels at their lowest levels for at least five years.
Room occupancies are at 55% while bed occupancies are at even lower levels at 45% - compared with 76% for rooms and 68% for beds in 2000.


Nor is the news getting any better.
Even the usually upbeat Tourism Corporation warns of a slump in advance bookings.
“All tour operators that have been contacted have reported a 'difficult' summer of selling holidays - and September, which is normally the first peak month for summer 2006 bookings looks like being very slow,” states Tourism in its Drumbeats newsletter.
“This would suggest that it is going to be a difficult 12 months for holiday
sales which will be particularly tough for long haul luxury!”
Long haul refers to visitors from North American and Europe.
Valued for their bigger travel budgets, US visitors are at their lowest arrival levels in at least five years, while Canada arrivals are less than half of what they used to be and continue to plunge – down 25% for the first four months of the year.


Industry observers say the Tourism Corporation has identified a way forward itself.
In its newsletter, Tourism quotes Erik Wolf, president of the International Culinary Tourism Association, a non-profit group representing more than 500 tourism businesses in 19 countries.
“The last five years has seen an incredible shift in the way holidays are marketed and it’s all because people are demanding authentic experiences.”
More than half – 53% - have ranked eating traditional dishes as an important part of their holidays, according to research by the UK’s World Travel Market.
Fiona Jeffery, Group Exhibition Director of World Travel Market, who undertook the independent research with 2000 people throughout the UK of all ages and socio economic groups, said: “Food tourism today is where eco-tourism was 20 years ago; people are starting to take an interest.”
However the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation identifies growing demand for authenticity and food tourism only as a “growing niche area” rather than a potentially strategic development.


Buzz Macmuff said...

Reading this is a bit painful given the tone set by the headline. What it should read is that the 2005 Tourism figures would be utterly stuffed, but for the Kiwi Market, which in turn depends on the flights we get in (I'll touch on this later)

Most obvious is the blantant omission that we were hit by multiple cyclones earlier in 2005. No wonder the figures are down. Let's not give up hope yet. Assuming no cyclones and hurricanes in 2006, we can expect a reasonably robust tourism market for 2006.

The reduction in long haul tourists is because there is no demand for long haul flights to the Cooks, which in turn is because we have no recognised hotel operators, and we don't cater to the luxury long haul tourist, only the bottom end (ie backpackers). Don't forget we lost our direct link to Hawaii and Canada. We are dependant on Kiwis because Air New Zealand sends us Kiwis, there is no demand for airlines to send us Americans or Europeans direct.

Quite simply, we need a Sheraton or a Hilton on Rarotonga, otherwise the main overseas agents will continue to shun us. A top end hotel in Raro will create the critical demand we need to bring in these extra flights and the high end long haul tourists that can really add so much to the economy and incomes of everyone in the Island.

With a proper high end tourist market, this creates demand for tourist activities and supporting businesses, that can be run by locals, and lets think beyond just tours.

The construction industry figure appears odd and may be in error in light of the post-cyclones work (otherwise the 2004 figure is overstated).

Food tourism and eco-tourism are simply distractions - these require a critical mass of free spending tourists to support what are niche markets.

avaiki said...

Painful it might be, but the headline reflects comments out in the tourism industry. And, if Buzz McMuff reads carefully, you will find that the obvious answer to the question is: no. And, if Buzz McMuff reads the article again, he will find the article states that figures are up, not down as Buzz mistakenly claims. However, Buzz is right to point out that cyclones were not mentioned.

Other obviously blatant omissions is the argument that high-end tourism results in few benefits for the host nation, especially on a small island like ours.

Common concerns include: at least 60 cents out of every dollar goes straight back out of the country again - and that is just the dollars that make it here. How many accommodators bring all their income into the country from overseas travel agents?

And what about the costs of high-end tourism? Arorangi residents would be the first to tell you that their water dries up first whenever supplies run low. Is it any coincidence most tourism development takes place there?

Defenders of high-end tourism can tell us what government "should" be doing with all their taxes but the blatant fact is the world over that high-end tourism sucks resources away from the little people and into foreign investments.

I won't bother quoting statistics or other facts on how little of global "niche" markets we need to make this country a success because Buzz reckons statistics are all lies. If not facts, I wonder what Buzz bases arguments in support of high-end tourism on? Fantasy?

Or just good old-fashioned self-interest?

jason brown
avaiki nius agency

Anonymous said...

It really is too bad that Avaiki spent too much time in the sun, since he hasn't realised that the Cook Islands does not have high-end tourism! =) The best hotel we have is the Pacific Resort, but it is not what most "luxury travellers" would consider high end when compared to the rest of the world. We're handling the lower end of tourists, backpackers and giving cheap package deal specials to Kiwis to try and keep us going. As for the "long haul luxury", which are "valued for their bigger travel budgets" the figures are consistent with these tourists not returning, because they know that after a long flight, they aren't going to be taken care of to a high enough standard. We need less low end tourists, that stress our resources, as is the case now, which Avaiki mistakenly (or not) blames on high end tourism. You can't blame high end tourism when it isn't here. Maybe he doesn't know what high end tourism is? Anyone doing a internet search (or failing that, using their common sense) would realise that high end tourism would bring in more money to the economy, because these tourists have more to spend! There's also less of them! Avaiki baldly claims that 60 cents of every dollar spent by tourists goes straight out again. Too bad he can't back it up. As for niche markets, does he actually know what he's talking about? The guy said we needed a critical mass of tourism to make niche markets work.

In conclusion, Avaiki, leave your self-interest, limited knowledge, the chip on your shoulder and your negativity at home. You'll find it a lot easier to focus on solving problems for a change!

Buzz Macmuff said...

Yes Anonymous, it appears that Mr Brown has not "bothered" (in his own words) to consider, back up or accurately report on a lot of things when it comes to the tourism statistics.

I am flattered that he sees my humble opinion as so important to devote an entire diatribe on it and to try and slur my good blogger name. :)))

Looking over some of the news posted by Mr Brown on this site, some of which obviously borders on the fanciful to put it mildly, I would have to ask him to stick to reporting as opposed to seemingly propagandising his own agenda, whatever it may be, and apologise to the people who visit this site in order to try and stay reasonably informed.

Anonymous said...

Yes the headline is wrong... Kiwi numbers would be highest in July, because it is their Winter.... no surprises there

The Winter for North America and Europe when we should have a peak of Northern Hemisphere Visitors would coincide with when we had the cyclones.... so this would explain the fall in these visitors for the year too... the numbers might not lie but the way they are interpreted is ripe for abuse.... maybe the writer should look at the entire year's results next time.

avaiki said...

Good to see some people so passionate about debating points on a news service they have so little respect for. Look forward to more strong debate for the rest of 2006.

jason brown
avaiki nius agency