Tourism is crucial to New Zealand’s economy and a vital source of employment for New Zealanders. In 2015, New Zealand's tourism industry again became our country's largest export earner - generating nearly $12 billion, or more than 17% of all foreign exchange earned, and employing more than 12% of our population.

International visitor arrivals were up by 11% in 2016 and have steadily increased since 2013, with 46% arriving on Air New Zealand or our alliance partners. By 2022 the number of visitors to New Zealand is expected to reach 4.5 million - a growth of more than 5% annually. While visitor numbers have steadily increased, visitor value is growing at an even faster rate. The spend by international visitors increased by 18%, with the average spend per visitor up 6% in 2016.

Our goal is to grow the economic value of tourism to New Zealand through destination promotion and market development and we are committed to the Tourism Industry Association of New Zealand's 'Tourism 2025' strategy, which aims to grow New Zealand's tourism revenues to $41 billion by 2025.

Sustainable tourism

We recognise that genuine sustainable development outcomes are key to ensuring the long-term success of the industry. New Zealand boasts some of the most stunning landscapes and natural scenery in the world. A mecca of outdoor beauty, our natural landscapes are a key reason why visitors choose New Zealand as a destination. As visitor numbers grow it is vitally important that we continue to preserve and protect our natural environment. It is also crucial that New Zealand's communities and tourism infrastructure are able to keep pace with forecast tourism growth.

Our Tourism team has worked with our Regional Affairs and Strategy teams to advance a strategy that identifies key areas where we can transform business approaches to better support long term, sustainable outcomes for the industry. Our objectives include increasing holiday arrivals in New Zealand's shoulder season (April - October) as well as promoting tourism to New Zealand's regions so that all communities benefit, all year round.

New market development

Growing the economic value of tourism to New Zealand means not only investing and operating a route network that will support tourism growth, but also investing in destination promotion and the development of new markets, including consumer marketing campaigns and trade education. While we undertake our own activity to market Air New Zealand and our country, we also recognise the importance of collaboration. We invest more than $10m each year in partnership with Tourism New Zealand and other industry partners to promote New Zealand in key offshore markets and develop new tourism markets.

Destination promotion

Strong growth in tourism demand from all markets provides unique opportunities to travel beyond key tourism locations, enabling New Zealand to accommodate increased visitors, and help broaden the distribution and benefits of tourism. From north to south, we continue to work closely with regional stakeholders to develop unique tourism propositions that reflect and complement the distinctive aspects of each region in a way that is compelling to prospective visitors, both domestic and international. In partnership with Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs) we look to create compelling marketing campaigns to attract more visitors to regional centres and to sell “all of New Zealand” – not just the popular tourist nodes.

In May 2016, as part of our sponsorship strategy to support world class events throughout New Zealand during the shoulder seasons, we promoted and hosted the inaugural Air New Zealand Hawke’s Bay International Marathon. The event was fully subscribed during a traditionally low visitor period and more than three-quarters of the 5,000 participants were from outside the Hawke’s Bay region.

Sharing Māori culture

We recognise Māori culture as a foundation of New Zealand's heritage. As the national carrier, we are in a unique position to embrace and share Māori culture with New Zealanders and overseas visitors. We regularly use Te Reo to greet our customers and in 2016 have improved the use of Te Reo in other ways across our business.

We now farewell our customers using "Mā te wā." Translating closely to 'See you again,' we invested in training an initial 25 cabin crew to become ambassadors of the Māori language and culture onboard our flights, and we launched "Te Kete Tikanga Māori" - our own Māori language and culture app for employees. We have also worked with the Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission) to introduce the "Waha Tohu," a Māori language identifier pin that can be worn by fluent Te Reo speaking New Zealanders, including Air New Zealanders.