The Queenstown-based boss of the struggling motel sector is pleading for the Government to sink funds into marketing domestic tourism.
At the recent Motel Association of New Zealand annual conference in Hamilton, president Peter Smith – a long-time Wakatipu motelier – told Prime Minister John Key his sector is hurting.
“We have not gone out and said that very much,” Smith said, according to industry newsletter Inside Tourism.
“We are reluctant as a board because we don’t want to decrease the value of our assets.”
Moteliers have been affected by the completion of development projects in the regions, leading to construction workers and contractors moving on.
Also, retirees who had lost money in finance company crashes are cutting back on domestic travel.
Smith tells Mountain Scene that Queenstown and West Coast motels have suffered less because Australians, stimulated by joint marketing campaigns, were doing a loop round the lower South Island.
“But the corporate market’s tightened up, and the older person who had the money that was invested in the finance companies, they’re not coming to Queenstown,” Smith says.
Smith is calling for the Government to fund joint venture marketing campaigns with regional tourism organisations, aimed at Kiwis, using existing Tourism NZ imagery.
“They would be crazy not to,” Smith tells Inside Tourism.
“It is cheaper and more cost-effective to market to New Zealanders to keep them at home and retain the NZD here rather than seeing them racing off to Australia to spend their money.”
The newsletter quotes Smith’s wife Dianne, on seeing a Tourism NZ ad, exclaiming: “I want to go there!”
Marketer Cristine Angus told delegates at the Motel Association pow-wow: “Even though international growth has been dramatic over the past decade, domestic is still worth more to our country in terms of expenditure than international tourism by still some margin.”
The newsletter reports Key saying he will look at funding domestic tourism: “I think there is real argument there for making sure you encourage New Zealanders to go and see the country before they leave town.”
And according to Smith: “Seventy to 80 per cent of Aucklanders have never been [to Queenstown].”
Asked his view about promoting domestic tourism, Tourism NZ chief executive Kevin Bowler says it’s not part of his organisation’s remit.
“It’s something that we’re open to but that’s something that Government would have to ask us to do.
“Really, they see that as the RTOs’ primary responsibility.”