Thursday, May 10, 2018

Dunnerstunner stats

It was the last day of the TRENZ conference today, and the busiest for me, with the afternoon completely full. I've met so many enthusiastic operators/owners of tourism products here, lots of them new operations, and almost all of them places I would like to go, things I would like to do, good story material - particularly my last appointment, which produced the offer of a helicopter trip into the Southern Alps with Richie McCaw...

In the media presentations each morning, I've learned about this industry that I slipped into through the back door: the country's biggest export earner, it brought in $36.6 billion last year, and employs one in seven people in 400,000 jobs. Sixty percent of that income is from domestic travel, though, and the industry wants to encourage more international visitors. I was interested that our ratio of arrivals to population is 0.8:1, whereas in my personal bucket-list destination, Iceland, it's 5.2:1 - that's another way of looking at getting two million visitors a year when your population is only 300,000. No wonder they're feeling overwhelmed and aren't keen on hosting people like me who will only encourage more tourism. 
Even in New Zealand we feel a bit that way sometimes - dodgy foreign drivers are always in the news through the summer (dodgy domestic drivers hogging the headlines for the rest of the year); and crappy (literally) freedom campers have also been a pet hate nationally this year. Certainly, living on Waiheke, you know when it's tourist season, and especially when there's a cruise ship in port. But, on the other hand, we like to be liked, and mostly the buzz is enjoyable, and certainly there are a lot of jobs dependent on the visitors.

It cuts both ways: we took 2.9 million trips overseas ourselves last year which, for a total population of around 4.5 million, is a fairly impressive statistic in itself. I was thinking that I wouldn't be contributing to that figure myself this year, but happily I've just learned that there is now an overseas trip pretty much confirmed - not quite Iceland, but close: Norway. So, watch this space. And, in the meantime, here's that Ed Sheeran mural I forgot to look for on my street art wander on Monday:

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