Auckland tourism chiefs are hoping to fill empty hotel beds with an $800,000 campaign to attract other New Zealanders to the city.
The Auckland ratepayer-funded campaign, which began yesterday, targets potential visitors in Waikato, Northland, the Bay of Plenty, Wellington and Canterbury and promotes Auckland as a diverse, vibrant place.
Research found some people still saw Auckland as an unwelcoming, hostile and snooty city.
Hotel occupancy is running at 60 per cent and Ateed, the city council's tourism and events subsidiary, wants to increase that to about 80 per cent.
Tourism Industry Association chief executive Martin Snedden said domestic tourism was worth about $13 billion - 60 per cent of all tourism revenue - and deserved more focus.
"That is incredibly important to the sustainability of tourism; while we have a lot of businesses that deal with international tourism, a lot of them get their bread and butter from domestic tourism. They can't afford to do without it," he said.
"If you talk to Government, not surprisingly they're interested in new international money but I would have thought there would be room for them to be thinking about the domestic part of the market."
Australia and Britain had large domestic marketing campaigns, Snedden said.
Ateed's chief executive, Brett O'Riley, said the television advertising campaign outside Auckland would run over the next two months and online promotion would run longer.
"With transtasman airfares as low as they are, we've deliberately pitched Auckland as an international destination so all the things you can enjoy in an international city can be enjoyed in Auckland - and you can drive here."
The campaign was launched after focus group research and an online survey of 1000 people.
Ateed hopes to increase the value of Auckland's domestic tourism sector from $1.36 billion in 2010 to $2 billion annually by 2021.