Auckland expects tourism boost

Len Brown
Len Brown
Seaplanes, America’s Cup yacht charters and the Harbour Bridge Skypath are among visitor experiences forecast to help lift Auckland’s annual tourism dollar take to $7.2 billion in 2021.

Mayor Len Brown said the city’s visitor economy was booming and plans were in place to expand from a $4.8 billion industry in 2012 to $7.2 billion in 2021 - representing 50 per cent growth per annum.

Auckland’s previous 10-year visitor plan, released by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) in 2011, was to grow the visitor economy from $3.3 billion in 2010 for $6 billion annually in 2021.

The increase would be achieved by increasing international tourism from $2.46 billion in 2012 to $4.23 billion in 2021 and domestic tourism from $2.37 billion in 2012 to $3 billion in 2021, Mr Brown said.

‘‘In real terms, that means an extra 12,000 jobs for our city.’’

Many of those jobs would be created in hospitality sector, which had high uptake of youth employment, he said.

‘‘We’ve still got high youth unemployment figures and its great to see job growth in an area where we can take on young people.

‘‘Two-thirds of these jobs will be front-line retail attraction and hospitality businesses, while others will include the likes of construction, to build new hotels and crew boats,’’ Mr Brown said.

ATEED chief executive Brett O’Riley said tourism was the city’s largest industry and the core of the economic growth story for Auckland.

To achieve the $7.2 billion goal, the organisation hoped to maximise the value of the tourism dollar, he said.

Over the next decade it was estimated that Auckland’s inbound air capacity would need to grow by around 200,000 seats per year and Auckland would need up to 3400 new hotel rooms by 2021, he said.

‘‘Our approach is to grow demand for Auckland and enhance the visitor experience. It’s about marketing the destination while simultaneously capitalising on Auckland’s amazing natural assets and improving the visitor product offering.’’

Auckland was no longer simply the gateway to New Zealand, but also a destination in its own right, Mr O’Riley said.

To reach the $7.2 billion target, the group were marketing not only to New Zealand’s domestic market, Australia and China, but also USA, Indonesia, Japan and the emerging market of South America.

‘‘We think the downturn in the Australian economy is going to have Australians looking closer to home for holiday experiences and so Auckland and New Zealand stand to benefit from that.’’

One of the strategies to increase tourism from China was dubbed the GEM - Golf, Equine and Marine - strategy, Mr O’Riley said.

The number of cruise ships visiting Auckland was also expected to increase.

‘‘We believe in a short period of time we will have between two and four cruise ships arriving in Auckland on a daily basis.

‘‘Fast-forward two or three years to the [completion] of the New Zealand International Convention Centre, where we’re going to having conventions here with up to 4000 or 5000 delegates and their partners - that’s another 10,000 people.’’

How the $7.2 billion target will be reached

* $402 million New Zealand International Convention Centre between Nelson and Hobson Streets

* New $50 million 5-star hotel Sofitel So ‘designer’ hotel at the site of the old New Zealand Reserve Bank on Customs St East

* New $350 million, 52-level tower on corner of Albert, Victoria and Elliott streets. The tower will be the second tallest building in the country and will include restaurants, sky decks, and a 302 room hotel. It will also be on the City Rail Link route.

* Luxury $200 million 200 room 5-star hotel in Wynyard Quarter at the site of the Team New Zealand base

* GEM - Golf, Equine and Marine attractions

* Auckland International Airport expansion plans, included increasing Ibis hotel capacity by 50 per cent

* Infrastructure - City Rail Loop and eventually rail access to Auckland Airport

* $32 million WERO artificial whitewater park at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau

* SkyPath clip-on walk and cycleway suspended beneath the Auckland Harbour Bridge

* Auckland seaplanes, flying from Wynyard Quarter to Hauraki Gulf Islands

* America’s Cup sailing charter, Waitemata Harbour

* More international students

* More super yachts

* More cruise ships

By Brendan Manning of APNZ

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