The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the tourism industry to a grinding halt. Within a matter of months, a bustling; job generating; revenue-producing industry fell to its knees as it grappled with lockdowns; border restrictions; and a climate of fear.    

From this chaos, is emerging a new perspective that looks to redefine tourism, places emphasis on domestic tourism and leapfrog the industry into a new virtual world. Public sector representatives attending the last World Economic Forum Multi-Stakeholder Virtual Meet agreed that domestic tourism will be significant for the industry as it seeks to recover from the impact of Covid-19. In such a scenario, countries like India which have a large domestic market seem to have the upper hand. The Indian government has already started their initiative to promote domestic tourism by partnering with OutsideVR , a travel tech startup which will allow people to virtually explore India and further boost 'Incredible India' campaigns. 

Interestingly, New Zealand too, is showing a keen interest in the Indian market. The country seems to have taken a long term, multi-pronged approach that calls for promotion of domestic tourism alongside efforts to become the choice destination for the international traveler. 

According to Steven Dixon, the Regional Trade Marketing Manager Asia of Tourism New Zealand, Indian travellers partake in around 20 activities in New Zealand which is more than the general average during their stay. Furthermore, according to Tourism New Zealand’s report, India has 13.7 million people who are considering New Zealand for their next holiday, and New Zealand is in one of their top 5 destination they would most like to visit.

It is then, not surprising that, Tourism New Zealand is investing significantly in the Indian market. In fact, India has become an emerging priority market for New Zealand as it has shown strong growth and holiday arrivals have doubled in the past 5 years with 27,770 Indians visiting New Zealand for a holiday in 2019. 

Given this strong interest of Indians, New Zealand has launched a virtual campaign titled ‘Messages from New Zealand’ in all of Tourism New Zealand’s key markets, including India.

The campaign, is being released through social and digital channels, aims to promote New Zealand as a tourist destination by building brand appeal, consideration and preference for New Zealand when borders re-open post Covid-19. Tourism New Zealand has further tried to keep a strong connection with the Indian market by conducting 10 webinars during the lockdown period which was attended by approximately 5,000 travel agents across India. Further, to continue the momentum gained by the webinars, Tourism New Zealand has also launched a ‘Virtual Road Trip’ to highlight different regions of the country each month.

The country has also focused on developing specific tourism sub-sectors that act as a big incentive for Indians. The special interests sub-sectors consist of golf, cycling, skiing and hiking  and draw a lot of attention. 

New Zealand has seen significant investment in existing and new golfing facilities and now offers around 400 golf courses which are ‘designed by nature’ as they are set within natural landscapes. Furthermore, with 23 cycling trails catering to recreational cyclists and passionate mountain bikers, ski fields for every level of skier in a naturally diverse wonderland and, hiking trails which include 3 world heritage sites, it is clear to see why New Zealand has become a large attraction for Indian tourists. These sub-sectors further match tourist profile of Indians planning a trip to New Zealand as 67%, 60% and 51% cite their reasons to visit New Zealand as “to get in touch with nature”, “to explore and learn new things” and “to indulge and pamper themselves” respectively.

Tourism New Zealand is capitalizing on these insights and using the increasing popularity of virtual tourism to generate interest. Arguably the biggest and underlying advantage of virtual tourism is that it works as an amazing marketing tool and can help people make informed decisions. Businesses can share these virtual tours on their website, social media and through other mediums to attract people, which can help the tourism industry post Covid-19 pandemic. 

YouVisit, an online company that provides virtual tours have found that more than 13% of people who take a virtual tour of a destination have taken the next step and started planning an actual trip to the destination. In such a scenario, Tourism New Zealand’s decision to launch a virtual campaign in its key markets makes a lot of sense. And when combined with New Zealand’s domestic promotion campaign ‘Do something new, New Zealand’ , it seems the country has got all its bases covered. 

Going forward, as the industry offers virtual tours and tries to incentivise tourists for travel post Covid-19, it could also look at developing a common safety and sanitization standard for hosting and serving tourists along with adopting ecological waste disposal practices. Combining the virtual and the real world to develop long term tourism policies, may just be the way forward for this beautiful, nature rich country. 

It’ll be interesting to see how ‘Incredible India’ and ‘Do something new, New Zealand’ intertwine. 

This blog has been co-authored by Advek Basoya and Agrim Aggarwal.

Read Part 1: Growing Business Ties Beckon New Zealand and India here

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