Auckland's $7b plan to pull in tourists

By Brendan Manning

Forecast increase in visitors tipped to create 12,000 jobs in retail and hospitality.

Auckland Airport expansion plans.
Auckland Airport expansion plans.

Seaplanes, America's Cup yacht charters and the Auckland Harbour Bridge SkyPath are among forecast visitor experiences tipped to help lift Auckland's annual tourism income.

Mayor Len Brown said the city's visitor economy was booming and plans were in place to expand from a $4.8 billion-a-year industry in 2012 to $7.2 billion in 2021 - a rise of 50 per cent.

Auckland's previous 10-year visitor plan, released by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed) in 2011, was to grow the visitor economy from $3.3 billion in 2010 to $6 billion annually in 2021.

The plan is being revisited. The increase would be achieved by increasing international tourism from $2.46 billion in 2012 to $4.23 billion in 2021 and domestic tourism from $2.37 billion in 2012 to $3 billion in 2021, Mr Brown said.

"In real terms, that means an extra 12,000 jobs for our city."

Many of those jobs would be created in the hospitality sector, which has a high uptake of youth employment, he said.

"We've still got high youth unemployment figures and it's great to see job growth in an area where we can take on young people.

"Two-thirds of these jobs will be front-line retail attraction and hospitality businesses, while others will include the likes of construction, to build new hotels and crew boats," Mr Brown said.

Ateed chief executive Brett O'Riley said tourism was the city's largest industry and the core of the economic growth story for Auckland.

To achieve the $7.2 billion goal, the organisation hoped to maximise the value of the tourism dollar, he said.

Over the next decade it was estimated that Auckland's inbound air capacity would need to grow by around 200,000 seats a year and Auckland would need up to 3400 new hotel rooms by 2021.

"Our approach is to grow demand for Auckland and enhance the visitor experience. It's about marketing the destination while simultaneously capitalising on Auckland's amazing natural assets and improving the visitor product offering."

Auckland was no longer simply the gateway to New Zealand, but also a destination in its own right, Mr O'Riley said.

To reach the $7.2 billion target, the group were marketing not only to New Zealand's domestic market, Australia and China, but also USA, Indonesia, Japan and the emerging market of South America.

"We think the downturn in the Australian economy is going to have Australians looking closer to home for holiday experiences and so Auckland and New Zealand stand to benefit from that."

One of the strategies to increase tourism from China was dubbed the GEM - Golf, Equine and Marine - strategy, Mr O'Riley said.

The number of cruise ships visiting Auckland was also expected to increase. "We believe in a short period of time we will have between two and four cruise ships arriving in Auckland on a daily basis.

"Fast-forward two or three years to the [completion] of the New Zealand International Convention Centre, where we're going to having conventions here with up to 4000 or 5000 delegates and their partners - that's another 10,000 people."

Other projects under way in Auckland include the expansion of Auckland International Airport; a $350 million, 52-level tower on the corner of Albert, Victoria and Elliott Sts, and the construction of the City Rail Link.

Tomorrow: Paving way for City Rail Link.

- NZ Herald

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