Air travel infrastructure identified as key among potential barriers to tourism growth.

Vulnerable air links have been identified as a potential barrier to developing New Zealand's $23.4 billion tourism industry.

The Tourism Industry Association issued the framework of its 2025 plan yesterday, including key themes for the sector to concentrate on.

"There is no single solution to growing the value New Zealand gets from tourism. But in developing Tourism 2025 over the last six months we have found a range of areas where there are significant opportunities for the industry to increase its value and its profitability," said association chief executive Martin Snedden.

"Within tourism, it is in everyone's interests for New Zealand to have stable, profitable international and domestic connectivity, well positioned to both support and stimulate growth in key target markets."


Snedden said New Zealand's air capacity levels had grown little in the past few years, while over the same period Australia's air capacity had steadily increased in line with global trends.

"We are very fortunate to have a national airline, an entity which is majority owned by the taxpayer and which has an emotional stake in servicing our country.

"We can rely on Air New Zealand being here to meet some of our needs."

Two-thirds of international visitors to New Zealand travelled on foreign-owned airlines, he said, and while this was of immense value these companies had no emotional stake in the country.

"We need Air New Zealand to succeed and we also need all the other airlines servicing New Zealand to do likewise."

Yesterday Snedden said the tourism industry needed to fill in information gaps to provide a much stronger platform to track performance. It also needed to target high-value tourists.

"The industry has a great opportunity now to better align and organise itself to realise the full potential of these opportunities. China is going well but value growth can be accelerated. New market opportunities require careful co-ordinated entry preparations."

He said the rejuvenation of Christchurch, both as a destination and a gateway to the South, needed strong support. International student family visits were also a rich, largely untapped market.

The industry needed to focus on productivity for profit by chipping away at seasonality issues, encouraging wider regional dispersal of visitors and improving business capability.

"A changing visitor mix as well as continued planned growth of cruise, events and conferences will each contribute to improved productivity results."