Auckland increases tourism targets

JOSH MARTIN
Last updated 09:59 19/05/2014

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Auckland's tourism agency has increased its revenue targets to 2021 by more than $1.2 billion, on the back of a record summer.

Mayor Len Brown today announced the revised targets, from the original $6b goal announced in 2011, to $7.2b annually.

The industry's value to Auckland in 2012 was $4.8b and to reach $7.2b the sector would need to grow by 4.6 per cent a year.

Brown said the revised aspirations were needed after a "bumper" 2013-14 summer season, where "visitor arrivals, guest nights and accommodation occupancy all reached unprecedented levels".

In February hotel occupancy in Auckland averaged 93 per cent and city holiday arrivals for the year ending March 31 were up 100,000, or 8 per cent, on 2013 levels.

Brown said the target, if reached, would have flow-on effects for employment, investment and migration in Auckland.

"Achieving the Auckland Visitor Plan targets would create 12,000 new jobs in Auckland, many of which will provide front-line career opportunities in retail, attractions and hospitality, as well as in the construction sector, to enable the development of vital new infrastructure, such as hotels," the mayor said.

The projected influx would likely improve youth unemployment numbers in the city, he said.

The $7.2b goal was divided into $3b in domestic tourism receipts and $4.2b from international tourists.

Auckland Tourism Event and Economic Development (ATEED) chief executive Brett O'Riley said the targets would be met by focusing on traditional markets like Australia, "comeback markets" such as Germany, Japan and the United States, as well as China.

O'Riley said Auckland would benefit from the Australian economic downturn, as travellers looked closer to home.

Five star hotel projects in development in the city, including at Wynyard Quarter, Customs St East and the 52-level tower NDG central, were vital in attracting high-value tourists from overseas, O'Riley said.

"Over the next decade it is estimated that Auckland's inbound air capacity will need to grow by around 200,000 seats per year and Auckland will need up to 3400 new hotel rooms by 2021," O'Riley said.

The gradual expansion of Auckland International Airport and the City Rail Loop projects were "absolutely key to reaching these targets", O'Riley said, as was the airport continuing to grow connectivity and frequency of flights into Auckland.

The partnership between Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand was singled out by O'Riley as a driver of increased arrivals from target markets in Southeast Asia.

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Auckland International Airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood said adding a daily wide-body jet flight, such as a Boeing 787, could generate as much as $140 million in tourism spend annually.

"Our partnerships with airlines, ATEED and Tourism New Zealand show what can be achieved to drive passenger growth and achieve the New Zealand tourism industry goal of 6 per cent annual value growth," he said.

The announcement was made to coincide with New Zealand tourism industry's largest international expo, TRENZ, where more than 300 operators are on show to domestic and international tourism buyers.

- Stuff

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