A Kiwi Plan: Tourism in New Zealand

Article excerpt

In the melee of global politics, cultural tourism has seldom received attention. Yet tourism has developed into a significant industry for economies around the globe. Within tourism, ecological and cultural tourism sectors have grown dramatically. However, much of this growth has progressed in a rather unorganized fashion. Little planning has been done, leading to the detriment of sensitive cultures and ecosystems. While New Zealand seemingly could have fallen into this exploitative trap because of its unique cultural and environmental assets, the country has taken prominent steps to balance the protection of indigenous Maori culture with attempts to realize the economic gains tourism can provide.

Central to New Zealand's plans is the innovative "Tourism Strategy 2010." Written in 2000 by a panel of government ministers and private business owners, the plan develops a comprehensive vision for tourism in the next ten years. Its goal is to realize an additional NZ$11.1 billion dollars (US$7.2 billion) in revenue over projections without reform. Over the past two years the strategy seemed to be working. New Zealand has been named the top tourist destination by the Lonely Planet travel guide series. International visitor arrivals are up 14.3 percent while expenditures by international visitors are up 28.8 percent. Since international tourism contributes 4.5 percent of New Zealand's gross domestic product and one in ten jobs are related to tourism, a concerted effort toward maximizing revenue makes sense.

Driving this boom is an extensive grassroots economic training program coupled with intense targeted marketing and international advertising. New Zealand keeps meticulous visitor statistics that allows it to profile and target tourists in different countries according to their interests. It accomplishes this through exit surveys at major airports that track visitor stay and expenditure. With this data, New Zealand has spent millions to attract specific groups of people and promote general awareness of its tourism options through such diverse venues as advertisements in the London Under-ground and specials on the US-based Discovery Channel. In a competitive world, New Zealand is using easily obtainable data to find its tourist niche.

New Zealand also fuels its growth through internal development. To accomplish this goal, programs have been developed that provide start-up information, advice, and funding with special emphasis on Maori and cultural enterprises. …