Three days may do for Dubai - but not in New Zealand

Abu Dhabi Model Economies:International travelers spend an average of more than three weeks when they visit New Zealand. But the country is now boosting efforts to increase how much those tourists spend.

Twenty-three days. That is how long travellers stay, on average, when they visit New Zealand.

That is a long time, considering visitors to Dubai and Abu Dhabi spend an average of only three nights in hotels, while two-thirds of overseas visitors to London stay a week or less.

But while visitors take their time touring New Zealand's diverse landscape - 80 per cent of its trees and ferns can be found only in that country - they have not been spending as much as in the past. The total spent by visitors dipped 6 per in the year to March, to NZ$5.5 billion (Dh16.81bn), compared with the same period last year.

Tourism officials are trying to reverse this trend.

Organisers of the Rugby World Cup, which starts in New Zealand on September 9, have been supplementing the country's long-running "100 per cent pure" tourism marketing campaign with the slogan: "take the long way round for a real experience". This tagline refers to an ambitious nationwide festival peppered with hundreds of events, plus recommended travel routes designed to drive visitors - and their wallets - into specific bed and breakfast establishments, gourmet cafes and destinations such as a whale-watching outfit run by an indigenous Maori tribe.

"It's about what each community does well and putting it into a programme around the rhythms of the tournament," says Leon Grice, the director of New Zealand 2011, which helps to run the Rugby World Cup. Tourism is the country's biggest export earner and directly contributes US$6.5bn (Dh23.8bn), or 3.8 per cent, to its GDP.

Tourism New Zealand is a government-funded organisation that claims to be the world's oldest tourism marketing department. The government's strategy, which is similar to some tactics now being used in Abu Dhabi, has also helped to grow i-SITE, a nationwide network of 89 information centres where about 900,000 international visitors a year access local travel experts to book activities and accommodation.

It is now overseen through a mix of different operating models, although all of its sales staff are being trained to boost how much visitors spend while on holiday. "Visitor spend is an area of focus strategically," says Andrew Leslie, the manager of i-SITE NZ. "The i-SITE network has quite an important role to play in that."

Published: August 15, 2011 04:00 AM

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