New Zealand tourism operators will be urged to help to promote the industry and its benefits in a major new initiative being launched by Tourism Industry Aotearoa this year.
‘Tourism Story’ will seek to mobilise the thousands of operators across the country to help generate community support for the industry, which is keen to turn around growing unease about the effects of the booming sector.
TIA chief executive Chris Roberts revealed the plan in his Wednesday Letter on protecting the industry’s reputation and he told the Ticker it was currently being formulated with Tourism New Zealand and Regional Tourism NZ.
“We think getting NZ’s tourism story or tourism narrative right is an essential and immediate task for the tourism industry,” said Roberts.
“We recognise that our tourism brand is very well told to potential visitors in our offshore markets and also within our industry, framed by Tourism 2025, the challenges and opportunities are very well understood.
“But there is a gap with the general New Zealand public who we know from surveys don’t have a particularly in-depth understanding of tourism, its nature, what it delivers to NZ, and its value.”
The plan would also try to address a lack of understanding and, as a consequence, a lack of support from NZ’s non-tourism business leaders and other notable influencers.
Roberts pointed to the success of Sir Peter Jackson and Sir Richard Taylor’s Weta Studio Tours venture as an example of industry outsiders who had seen the value of tourism.
There was no set strategy at this stage although Roberts ruled out a big national public relations campaign.
“We don’t think that’s appropriate or feasible. Maybe it will be as simple as telling our stories better. That’s not done by the TIA team sitting in Wellington, it has to be at a grassroots level. We are still determining the best way to do that and, of course, how we fund it.
“Me standing up and talking about the $36bn a year that tourism contributes to the economy is not going to resonate with a member of the public. It has to be made real for them at a local level. That’s when we are going to get people understanding what tourism is doing for them and their communities.”
A launch date for ‘Tourism Story’ has not yet been set.