Snow season expected to help tough tourism times

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This year’s snow season is expected to be one of the saving graces for the flat state of New Zealand tourism.

At the opening day of Trenz today (Monday), Tourism NZ chief executive Kevin Bowler told media that this winter will help the industry bounce back after a series of natural disasters.

On top of the “hangovers” of the global financial crisis, the Christchurch earthquakes and Japanese tsunamis meant overseas visitors had declined in recent months.

Numbers dropped 11 per cent in March compared to the same period last year but have recovered a little – averaging a five per cent drop overall, compared to 2010, in the last few months.

“It’s the weakest in-bound tourism [numbers] New Zealand has seen in quite some time,” Bowler says.

The perennial push on Australia – NZ’s biggest in-bound ski tourist market – will continue, but Bowler adds the strong Australian dollar means NZ is competing with other countries like the United States and Europe.

Aussie ski holiday bookings are “a little bit behind on last year” but he’s confident last-minute bookings will strengthen.

“We are very ambitious about what we can achieve in Australia. There’s an enormous amount of effort going into ski holiday marketing.”

Other factors that will help improve tourism are the Rugby World Cup and the emerging Asian markets, aided by increasing numbers of daily flights to Auckland.