Kiwis take up the call to explore their backyard

Think you’ve seen it all? A lot of us do. It’s one of the attitudes Tourism New Zealand is working to change to get more people to see more of the country. It’s all about helping the local industry survive the pandemic and the loss of overseas visitors.

Let there be road trips, said the Prime Minister, and it came to pass – sometimes on a blind corner (see Truck stop). Just days into level 1, convoys of campervans hit the roads as a newly liberated citizenry set out to enjoy their freedom. We chose to go hard and go away, if only for the weekend.

We always have been keen domestic travellers, ever since the days we obeyed the marketers’ injunction not to leave town till we’d seen the country. Before Covid-19, according to Tourism New Zealand, 60 per cent ($23.7 billion) of tourism expenditure came from New Zealanders travelling at home.

Traditionally, the affluent among us have flown north in winter to soak up the sun of the islands, the Gold Coast, or the Mediterranean. This year, they pulled on their puffer jackets and took their special dietary requirements to Queenstown, Rotorua and other, less-visited spots.

The industry is relieved. “It’s been great to see [people] take up the call to explore their backyard,” says Andrew Wilson, interim chief executive of Destination Rotorua. “And we hope to see more people investing in a New Zealand holiday in the same way that they would in international travel.”

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Spend up, in other words. The industry has been doing what it can to make it easier for us to do that. “We’ve been actively encouraging locals to support and explore local businesses through our marketing campaigns,” says Wilson. “By promoting special deals for locals, we’ve been encouraging them to buy products from local businesses and make the most of the world-class activities and attractions in our backyard.”

According to Tourism New Zealand, locals travelling locally want the same rush they have been getting overseas.

“When you ask what Kiwis look for on an international holiday,” says Bjoern Spreitzer, general manager domestic at Tourism New Zealand, “they say: I want to go somewhere where I can relax, see new things and learn new things.”

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