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Manchester, United Kingdom — 22-25 September 2009

WYSE Archives

YHA New Zealand concerned about Tourism Minister’s anti-backpacker stance

Nov 23, 2020

YHA New Zealand is concerned about Tourism Minister Stuart Nash’s focus on high-value tourism when borders reopen.

The youth market represented almost a quarter (450,000 people) of all annual holiday arrivals to New Zealand up until COVID-19. This is a significant economic driver for the country that generates $1.5 billion in foreign exchange earnings – higher than any other age demographic.

YHA Chief Executive Mark Wells says, “Focusing on high-value tourism discounts the significance of the youth market to the visitor economy in New Zealand. It also disregards that a large section of the tourism industry is geared towards a long-established position for Aotearoa New Zealand as a vibrant country for young and active visitors looking for adventure, culture and nature. This has proven to be a successful strategy for our country and has supported strong industry growth and, with that, economic benefit over the past 20 years.”

YHA New Zealand agrees that it is appropriate to consider a re-set for tourism but contends that the Government should embrace the key elements of the country’s strong historical tourism performance to develop future strategies. This includes continuing to target and invest in the youth market as part of an overall destination marketing strategy.

Mr. Wells is asking the incoming Minister to develop a more rounded insight into the sector as part of shaping the Government’s position on this key economic driver.

“The youth segment stays longer, visits more destinations, is more satisfied by their visit and takes part in more activities while they are here … and often return when they are older” Wells says. “Focusing on this market also achieves broad appeal to older demographics, whereas targeting older demographics is less likely to appeal to the younger market.”

“By concentrating on high-value experiences that target middle-aged travellers we risk eroding the well-established positioning of New Zealand. This will limit the appeal to the youth market, but also the broader target as well. The older demographic is less likely to take part in extreme versions of experiences on offer. The adventurous and innovative spirit that these experiences represent should remain a draw-card and continue to define New Zealand.”

Youth market tourism facts:

  • Generation Z (those born between 1995-2015) make up 30% of the international travel market and is the largest single demographic with considerable purchasing power and influence.
  • Youth visit more regions than any other age group and their $1.5 billion spend is more widely spread throughout the country.
  • The youth market, particularly Generation Z, has its own specific media consumption and values that benefit from specific attention.
  • Youth word-of-mouth is a significant contributor to the ongoing long-term positioning of New Zealand. This segment has a higher satisfaction level when experiencing New Zealand, which supports positive word of mouth.
  • Working Holiday Visas are important ‘products’ that drive youth arrivals as well as short-term support of the tourism industry, covering seasonal demands across regional areas. This enables business growth, especially within regional economies.
  • The international study market contributes significant parallel revenues that support leisure arrivals as well as additional visitation from friends and family.

For more information on the youth traveller, please refer to WYSE Travel Confederation’s New Horizons series.

About YHA New Zealand
The Youth Hostels Association of New Zealand, (YHA New Zealand) is a not-for-profit association that was established in 1932 in Canterbury. With a network of over 30 hostels in both islands, YHA New Zealand provides high quality budget accommodation to New Zealanders and international travellers. YHA New Zealand is a committed advocate of sustainable practices.

Mark Wells
Chief Executive, YHA New Zealand
0274 947560 |


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