The outlook for New Zealand-Aotearoa tourism

The impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector has been severe.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism was one of our largest and fastest growing sectors.

In the year ended March 2020, tourism generated 5.5 per cent of New Zealand-Aotearoa’s GDP and 20.1 per cent of exports [Tourism Satellite Account, Year ended March 2020]. The sector also employed 225,000 people.

But the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector has been severe. International visitor arrivals to New Zealand decreased 98.6% and the number of people directly employed in tourism decreased by a third.

The Government invested heavily in the sector to strengthen tourism for when the border reopened. Our economy also responded well, with people finding new employment outside tourism and some tourism firms pivoting to the domestic market or to alternative offerings.

Now that our border is open and we are welcoming back international visitors, the tourism sector is beginning to rebuild. Global and domestic challenges will continue to impact the recovery. There is uncertainty in the global economy, including inflationary pressures, high fuel and other travel costs, reduced air connectivity, labour shortages and constrained supply chains.

But worldwide we are also seeing tourism return at pace and there is pent-up demand from our key markets to travel internationally again.