As the world emerges from the pandemic, our hospitality industry faces new challenges and opportunities. William Hudson reports on the return to normalcy, and some of the lessons learnt
New Zealand’s tourism industry is on the path to recovery after the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The industry is expecting a 55 to 65 percent return of pre-Covid visitor arrivals and spending by May, which is an encouraging sign of a sustained recovery.
However, this recovery is subject to various potential hiccups such as geopolitical or financial instability, or other unforeseen factors that may affect the industry’s longevity.
Despite the risks, the tourism industry has shown promising signs of rebound, with incremental increases in airline connectivity, high-quality authentic experiences, and protection of natural attractions.
These factors have contributed to the continued growth of the industry as a destination for both domestic and international tourists.
After a challenging couple of years, the pent-up demand for travel and the steady recovery from international markets, especially the US market, has had a positive impact on our luxury tourism company, The Lindis Group – making us one of the beneficiaries of the industry’s return.
We’ve noted that travellers’ considerations when it comes to tourism certainly have shifted during the pandemic. Accessibility and convenience to aviation links are now important factors that influence tourists’ choices. The easier the journey to New Zealand, the better it is for tourism businesses.
Authenticity and the quality of experiences have always been important, but even more so now, and we see a huge emphasis placed on experiential travel – with a focus on creating memorable experiences with loved ones being extremely valuable to visitors.
The return of traditional markets
We’re seeing the majority of our clientele coming from traditional markets such as the US, UK, and Western Europe during the summer season. As the industry moves into the shoulder and winter seasons, we’ll see great support coming from Australia and New Zealand.
One of the positives that emerged during and post the pandemic period is the support from the domestic market, which remains a crucial audience for us.
Yes, the pandemic has had a lasting effect on tourism and travel, but the ability to work from anywhere has made travellers more flexible, allowing them to cover more than one aspect of a trip, such as mixing leisure and business travel, and often extending the duration of their stay. Sustainability is also becoming an essential factor in tourism, with more emphasis on environmentally-friendly and community-based operations.
The Group is already trading up on pre-pandemic times, as it was in its formative stages before the pandemic hit. The swift recovery of the US market, the increase in aviation connectivity, and the expansion of the Australian and New Zealand market have contributed to our strong forward bookings for the next few quarters.
Flexibility the key
Overall, I believe New Zealand’s tourism industry has shown encouraging signs of recovery, with the potential for sustained growth. However, the industry must remain vigilant and flexible to adapt to changing circumstances.
The focus must be on creating authentic and sustainable experiences that meet travellers’ evolving needs while preserving the natural beauty that makes New Zealand a unique and sought-after destination.
William Hudson is managing director of The Lindis Group.