Kiwi tourism firms join forces to attract US tourists back to New Zealand

  • 25/05/2022
Queenstown and Auckland
The organisations are working together to develop "a compelling offering" for Americans. Photo credit: Getty Images

As Aotearoa continues its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by encouraging more international visitors, three of the country's largest tourism organisations have formed a partnership to help do the job.

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, Auckland Airport and Destination Queenstown have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in an attempt to attract more North American travellers to Aotearoa.

The organisations are working together to develop "a compelling offering" for leisure, business and incentive travellers to enjoy both Auckland and Queenstown.

"We are delighted to be working together to provide a strong Aotearoa New Zealand proposition for the North American market," said Richard Thomas, Destination Queenstown's chair. 

"A core focus for us as international travellers return is to encourage slower, more immersive travel for those who come to our shores."

In 2019 almost half of all visitor spend from the United States was spent in Auckland and Queenstown, the organisations said. North America has also been identified as a priority market by both Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand.

"Our aim is that the Auckland-Queenstown proposition becomes the foundation of a New Zealand itinerary for US travellers, and that over time this encourages more North American visitors to come to Aotearoa and spend more time and money in our communities," Tātaki Auckland Unlimited chief executive Nick Hill said.

Once a direct New York service begins in September 2022, Tāmaki Makaurau will be the most connected city in Australasia to North America with seven year-round, non-stop destinations on offer and 60 flights per week. 

Queenstown has a strong connection to Auckland with 50 flights per week.

"Even pre-COVID, North America was already a really important – and growing – market for arrivals into Auckland Airport," said Scott Tasker, Auckland Airport's general manager of aeronautical commercial.

"As aviation recovers, we're seeing a real eagerness from airlines to re-start those connections and in some cases, like Air New Zealand, develop new routes."

That provides potential visitors with a choice of airlines which will, in turn, drive the recovery of Aotearoa's tourism industry, Tasker said.

"We expect arrivals from the USA alone to overtake China as our second biggest tourism market this year and hold that position until at least 2026."

One of the key tasks for the organisations will be developing travel itineraries that focuses on the must-do activities in both regions. That will include food, golf, arts and culture and low-carbon experiences.

"Together, we want to make it easy… to present a strong and consistent message to the North American market about what a fantastic holiday in Aotearoa New Zealand could look like," Hill said.

The equal partnership will see the three organisations working together on joint sales calls and in-market representation, road shows, media and travel agent visits and more.