B&B Conference: “Rolls-Royce” service not feasible without change

Around 100 delegates attended the B&B annual conference in Wanaka. Credit: Tourism Ticker

The New Zealand tourism industry is trying to run a Rolls-Royce service on a Baby Austin carriage, according to Lincoln University’s Professor David Simmons.

David Simmons

Speaking at the B&B Association’s annual conference in Wanaka, the Professor of Tourism addressed the challenges faced by a booming tourism industry, which in the year to February saw a record 3.6m visitors come to NZ.

He criticised the lack of a government-led strategy for the industry, which last year made a direct contribution of $12.9bn or 5.6% to GDP, and called for a more joined-up approach.

He said: “The tourism industry is at severe risk of overrunning the place. We need a partnership at central and local level to make this sector work. We haven’t got the policy framework right at the moment.”

He added: “We have flicked from too much government into none and now there are a range of market failures around tourism” listing roads, parking, and waste-management.

“You can’t have an industry running a Rolls-Royce service on a Baby Austin carriage.”

Professor Simmons called for a return of the Ministry of Tourism to lead a partnership between central and local government, with government setting out the long-term vision and a platform for the private sector to act on.

He added: “Marketing is an implementation tool, it is not a strategy. We need a strategy around who – or what – is good tourism.”

Queenstown Lakes District Council deputy mayor, Calum Macleod, also addressed some of the challenges of tourism growth expressing his personal view that there should be some sort of national visitor levy.

“Four years ago I walked the Milford Track and it was a wilderness experience because we had to book. New Zealand at some point needs to have an honest conversation about becoming the Milford Track of the world. We can’t keep giving it away.”

Tourism Industry Aotearoa advocate, Rachael Moore, set out what her association is doing in respect of managing growth.

She said the two main focus areas for TIA this year are the “urgent and large” infrastructure need and sustainability.

Referencing the recently released Deloitte National Tourism Infrastructure Assessment Moore said TIA is now looking to government to see how they are going to respond.

The association is working to expand the sustainability element of the current Tourism 2025 framework that was launched in the aftermath of the financial crisis with growth at its core.

It expects to present its expanded sustainability agenda at its annual summit in Wellington in November.

The changing role of the B&B

The changing role of the B&B in New Zealand’s dynamic tourism industry was examined at the association’s annual conference.

Lincoln University’s Dr David Simmons urged delegates to embrace the experience economy to stay ahead of market and consumer trends in tourism.

Speaking at the annual event in Wanaka the Professor of Tourism said: “Visitors no longer say ‘I came and I saw, but they now say ‘I came, I did’.”

He referenced the launch of global accommodation provider Airbnb’s Experiences platform as an example of this trend writ large.

Social media and digital marketing guru, Jamie Roy, suggested B&B owners think of themselves as marketing companies that sell bed nights in order to compete in the transforming accommodation space.

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