Wellington, Nov 29 (IANS): New projections for the recovery of New Zealand tourism suggest that it could be 2024 before the industry gets close to its "new normal".
Tourism Industry Aotearoa (New Zealand) (TIA) released a Tourism Industry Roadmap to an online audience of more than 400 at the opening of Tourism Summit Aotearoa on Monday. The roadmap sets out an up-to-the-minute analysis of how the industry recovery might progress over the next few years.
Drawing on the opinions and expertise of two dozen tourism leaders, the Roadmap aims to provide guidance by industry, for industry, so that tourism businesses can plan for a range of potential pathways, TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts said.
"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," Roberts said.
Quarantine-free travel is key to attracting international visitors back to New Zealand, he 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."
The Roadmap analysis shows there is a 16-billion-New Zealand dollar potential additional loss in foreign exchange earnings if there are delays to the removal of border restrictions, Xinhua news agency reported.
"Twenty-six billion New Zealand dollars in earnings from international visitors has already been lost since border restrictions began in February 2020. The analysis suggests a further 23-billion-New Zealand dollar loss in the next three years, but this could balloon to 39 billion New Zealand dollars if our reconnection to the world is delayed."
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 seen as 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.
Tourism in New Zealand comprises an important sector of the national economy, which directly contributed about 6 percent of the country's GDP prior to Covid-19.
As New Zealand's biggest export industry contributing 20.4 per cent of total exports, it directly employed 8.4 per cent of the New Zealand workforce before Covid, according to Stats New Zealand. (1 New Zealand dollar equals $0.70 dollar)