Wellington Tourism in the GFC
Social media and dinner table conversations may have turned from The GFC to The GC in recent times, but the global financial crisis is still very much a reality for Wellington and New Zealand businesses.
As you may have noticed, we are absolutely unashamedly positive about all things Wellington and tourism, but we’re also realists. We get that times are tough, and we are doing our utmost to protect our sector – and in turn the capital’s economy – from those times through constantly analysing, measuring and improving on our tourism and event marketing activity.
The positive news is that Wellington’s tourism industry is still in growth. In fact latest figures last week revealed visitor spend in the region’s economy increased 8% to $1.4 billion last year – that’s $2663 per minute.
Here’s a few other stats charting growth since the GFC began in 2007 through to the end of the last calendar year:
• Commercial guest nights in Wellington city have increased 13% to over 2.1 million. This is ahead of Auckland (12% growth) and Queenstown (1%) and bucking a trend of decline that has seen guest nights in Rotorua fall nearly 8% and Dunedin down almost 2%.
• Rooms sold in Positively Wellington Tourism’s partner hotels have increased 18% since 2007.
• Growth in Australian arrivals to Wellington has been double that of the rest of New Zealand since 2007 (42.6% vs 21.7%). 2011 alone saw 16% growth in Australian arrivals in Wellington, five times the rest of New Zealand growth rate of 3.3%.
This isn’t to say it’s been business as usual for Wellington’s tourism industry. As many of you will know, there has been a rapid change in the market mix, with arrivals to New Zealand from traditional markets of UK, Europe and US really hurting. When we saw this trend emerging, Positively Wellington Tourism began advocating for and secured a partnership-based fund to launch a regional campaign in Australia. Australian arrivals into Wellington have increased 43% since 2007, with last year alone seeing a 16% increase in arrivals. Visits by our trans-Tasman neighbours have been pivotal in keeping our economy afloat.
The key has, and will continue to be, in being nimble, tactical, innovative and working in partnership. The second of our two pop up restaurants in Melbourne last November involved dozens of restaurants, businesses, regions, food producers, wineries and an airline. It reached 9 million through traditional and social media.
Domestically, a ‘back to basics’ strategy was adopted with a ‘3 Nights for Two’ campaign resulting in a record winter both in commercial guest nights and also record bookings through WellingtonNZ.com. As Jamie noted in his recent post, the summertime follow up was not as successful, highlighting the importance of presenting the right offer at the right time. We are in turn exploring new concepts for the coming summer period.
Wellington’s successes certainly aren’t just our own – we are but one of many players in this game. The key is that we’re playing on the same team, constantly reviewing our performances and revising our game plan accordingly. One of the great legacies that will be left in the wake of the challenges we continue to face, will be the tighter strategic partnerships that have evolved between agencies, regions and businesses. What have you done to adapt to the challenges, share your stories and insights with us, or post a comment below.