Tourism beyond Covid-19 – is the future sustainable, local and green?

09 June 2020

As the country moves into the freedom of Level 1 today, many industries are still reeling from the impacts of the Covid-19 lockdown. Tourism is high on that list, with widespread international tourism off the cards for the foreseeable future.

But just how large is the hole in the industry’s fortunes? What can it be plugged with in the short term, and how can the industry reposition itself over the long term for a more sustainable future?

Domestic tourism should not be overlooked as it nets more revenue than international tourism. “Pre-Covid, Kiwis were spending both more in total and, on average, more per night than their international counterparts”, says Peter Clough author of NZIER’s latest Insight on Tourism beyond Covid-19, is the future local and green.

“In theory, around 80% of the $17 billion hole in international tourism spending caused by the Covid border closures could be filled by the early return of overseas students, Australian tourists, and Kiwis diverting their spending on overseas trips to domestic tourism”, said Peter Clough, “but it’s very uncertain that spending by these tourist groups would return to such levels soon.”
NZIER sees an opportunity for the tourism industry to pivot away from activities that, even before Covid-19 appeared, were beginning to show signs of unsustainability.

“This kind of pivot will not happen quickly. The huge economic and personal impacts of job losses and restructuring will be felt for some time across the industry and operators reliant on foreign tourist arrivals face tough challenges ahead” said Mr Clough.

“However, the upheaval also presents opportunities for a fresh start and a reset of the country’s tarnished 100% Pure image with a commitment to more sustainable business.”

Read the Insight here.

For further information please contact:
Peter Clough
Senior Economist
021 629 157, peter.clough@nzier.org.nz

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