Senior Lecturer in Tourism
The tourism industry is a very important part of the New Zealand economy and accounts for almost one-fifth of all New Zealand’s export earnings. In the past year, 2.5 million international visitors have come to this country spending $9.5 billion. When combined with domestic tourism spending, the total economic contribution to the New Zealand economy from tourism is close to $23 billion a year. By the time this expenditure has worked its way through the economy tourism provides almost ten percent of all jobs in the country.
In order to maintain a successful tourism industry we must ensure that our visitors have rewarding and memorable experiences that they will want to share with their friends and family back home. Tourism businesses have to ensure that they offer quality products to purchase and fantastic, friendly service. Different types of tourists will be seeking quite different experiences; an elderly couple from Japan will want a different experience from their holiday in Queenstown than a group of university students from Australia. Understanding the culture, needs and motivations of our visitors is a fundamental requirement of the tourism industry.
Tourists’ experiences of New Zealand do not come only from the products and services they purchase. For many visitors, some of their most memorable experiences will be of things that can’t be ‘bought’, such as watching the sun set over the ocean or taking a walk through a National Park. New Zealand is promoted to the world as ‘100% Pure’, which is a slogan that while based on images of pristine natural environments and clean air and water is focussed on the experiential nature of tourism. However the reality is that if we do not manage tourism effectively the industry and tourists could “love the country to death”. One issue that has received considerable media attention recently has been the problems caused by ‘freedom campers’ who travel around New Zealand enjoying our beautiful natural environment but sometimes leave behind unwanted human waste and rubbish. Not only does this behaviour damage the environment for others, but accommodation providers are missing out on income and local councils and communities have to pay for the clean up. Sorting out the problem of freedom campers is something that is going to require quite a bit of careful thought and planning.
Another crucial element of what visitors experience in this country is determined by their interactions with New Zealanders they encounter during their stay. This includes not only the staff who serve them in tourist businesses, but also the locals they meet on their holidays. If local communities are upset about the way tourism is developing, or the effects that tourists are having on their day to day life, then it is unlikely that they will be very welcoming of tourists. This means that for any tourism business or destination to be successful the attitudes and beliefs of the people who live in the destination should be taken into account in the destination planning process.
So, while tourism might be all about fun for many tourists, it is a serious business. There is no doubt that tourism provides many positive benefits to the economy, but tourism can bring negative consequences too. It is important that tourism is managed to minimise the negative consequences and maximise the positive benefits, and achieving this will require tourism professionals with the knowledge and expertise to drive tourism in the right direction.
Studying tourism at Lincoln University provides an excellent base for anyone wishing to make their mark in the tourism industry as a manager, planner or business leader. Lincoln has been undertaking research and providing education in the area of tourism for more than 25 years and continues to lead the way in these fields. As well as the Bachelor of Tourism Management, we offer supporting programmes that position students for a range of roles within the tourism industry, including business management, event management, hotel management, environmental management and planning, recreation and planning.