Australia Could Miss Out On 200,000 Additional Kiwi Visitors Unless It Takes A 'Domestic-Like Approach' To Trans-Tasman Tourism

TTF/Bringing Our Neighbour Closer

The industry group, the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF), has recommended Australia adopt a “domestic-like approach” to boost trans-Tasman arrivals, proposing common visitor visas, reduced travel times, regional aviation options and slashing the departure tax.

Australia could be missing out on as many as 200,000 additional visits from New Zealand residents by 2020, which could inject as much as $370 million into Australia’s visitor economy, TTF says in a new report entitled, Bringing Our Neighbours Closer.

“The growth in arrivals from New Zealand has been relatively flat for some time, with holiday visitors actually declining last year… It’s a market we have tended to take for granted and one that needs more attention,” TTF acting chief executive Trent Zimmerman said.

The peak industry body for the Australian tourism, transport, aviation and investment sectors – which advocates policy interests for 200 corporations and institutions – spotlighted four major reforms needed to prop up uninspiring arrival figures and floundered tourism opportunities.

Australia can boost demand by creating a “domestic-like” travel experience for Kiwi visitors. Shorter check-in and exit formalities from New Zealand coupled with a swifter entry into Australia could help to achieve the 5-hour trip goal and capitalise on the short-breaks market, which has proved to be a high-growth area for European tourism.

Cutting the departure tax to $25 is essential. TTF analysis revealed the $55 Passenger Movement Charge (PMC) represents around 18 per cent of the cheapest low season return air fare. This “over-collection” could cover passenger facilitation reforms and leave enough funds to reduce the PMC by half. Its complete removal would induce demand by over 10 per cent under the IATA model, unlocking spare capacity on the trans-Tasman route without airlines having to outlay additional capital.

Opening up additional points of entry to regional areas of Australia is also important. The report identifies the need for a middle category of airport that allows for limited international operation. Restricted airports – such as Newcastle, Canberra, Hobart, Coffs Harbour, Townsville and others – do not (with the exception of Gold Coast Airport) have regular international flights but have border agency passenger processing available if pre-arranged.

“New Zealand is our number one international source market, but we could see even more New Zealanders visit Australia by making it quicker, easier and cheaper and by opening up new points of entry,” Zimmerman said.

Finally, the need to develop common visitor visas between Australia and New Zealand is one of the most vital improvements necessary to revitalise and enhance trans-Tasman arrivals. Cost and convenience are early considerations in the decision-making phase for holidaymakers. As both countries’ source markets shift from the traditional markets of Europe and North America to Asia, it would be reasonable to expect that without reform, fewer visitors will take joint-country itineraries.

The Tasman is a mature market that is incredibly price sensitive, however, TTF affirms there is unrealised demand and tourism potential which can be stimulated by improving Australia’s border processing regime, aviation access and affordability.

As the centenary year of our ANZAC collaboration, 2015 is the year to move on these reforms to commemorate our shared history and to cement even closer future ties between Australia and New Zealand to our mutual benefit, the report says.

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