Auckland Airport seeks to measure New Zealand's tourism growth and sustainability

13 May 2019

Research commissioned by Auckland Airport has proposed a new framework for New Zealand to measure both the growth and sustainability of the tourism industry.

Tourism is New Zealand’s largest export earning industry in terms of foreign currency earnings. The $39 billion industry makes a direct contribution to GDP of $15.9 billion and employs at least 8 per cent of New Zealand’s workforce.

“We know tourism brings enormous benefits to New Zealand but our industry needs to manage its impact on our communities and the environment,” said Adrian Littlewood, Auckland Airport’s Chief Executive. “If growth and sustainability don’t go hand in hand, and New Zealanders don’t understand the benefits tourism brings, we risk losing the support of local communities and undermining the experience of our visitors.”

The research, carried out by economists Shamubeel Eaqub and Dr Kirdan Lees at Sense Partners, has proposed a new framework called the Sustainable Tourism Growth Monitor (STGM), helping the industry to measure the impact of tourism on a range of factors including infrastructure, congestion, the environment and community wellbeing.

“The framework Sense Partners has developed sets out a broad approach for measuring performance, but it shows that while some tourism data is of high quality and coverage, there are too many gaps to know confidently how we are really performing,” said Mr Littlewood. “We think there is an opportunity for the tourism industry and local and central governments to work together to build a robust framework to monitor growth and sustainability into the future.”

The framework was launched at the seventh annual New Zealand Tourism Forum today. Hosted by Auckland Airport, the forum brings together members of the tourism industry to share new market research and updates on aviation and overseas markets. This year’s speaker line-up includes renowned international travel futurist Doug Lansky, Mr Eaqub, Auckland Airport’s GM Aero Commercial Scott Tasker and Mayor of Rotorua Hon Steve Chadwick.

With more than 178,000 flights and 20 million passengers arriving each year, Mr Littlewood said Auckland Airport was working hard to grow New Zealand’s success in travel, trade and tourism.

“We want New Zealand to be a high-performing and sustainable tourism destination. Auckland Airport is playing its part, building an airport of the future as part of a multi-billion-dollar investment programme that will benefit New Zealand for generations to come,” said Mr Littlewood.

Mr Eaqub said the STGM showed there were opportunities for New Zealand to boost tourism in regions which still had capacity for growth, such as Rotorua, Napier and Dunedin.

“Like every popular country New Zealand has its destination hotspots, but don’t forget that there are plenty of places around the country that are set up for tourism and still have capacity to grow,” said Mr Eaqub. “There is a real opportunity for the industry to think about how it encourages visitors to branch out further into these regions.”

International tourism expert Doug Lansky said the sustainability of tourism was a growing issue around the world, and countries like New Zealand needed to act now to protect the quality and sustainability of their tourism markets. “It’s great to see Auckland Airport carrying out research in this area, in order to start a greater conversation about achieving sustainable destination management.”

Mr Lansky said New Zealand was in a good position to manage its growth sustainably, and there are lessons to be learned from overseas. He said a destination can have tourism, but tourism “should not have a destination”.

“It is important to re-define what success in tourism is. It has to be more than money – it also needs to be good for the locals and respectful of the environment,” said Mr Lansky.


About Doug Lansky

Doug Lansky has been living abroad and travelling for the last 20 years, visiting over 120 countries. He is the author of 10 books, including three for Lonely Planet and three for Rough Guides. Doug had a weekly syndicated travel column and hosted a Travel Channel show. He has also contributed to publications such as National Geographic titles, Esquire, The Guardian and Huffington Post. On the speaking circuit, Doug has spoken to a sold-out audience at National Geographic Headquarters, at the United Nations World’s Tourism Organization, and filled the largest halls at ITB Berlin.


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Chloe Ogilvie 021 292 0252