While it is widely known that the destination and composition of merchandise exports have been changing over recent years, less attention has been given to the drastic changes in the tourism industry (a major form of service export). Benje Patterson discusses that here (with a link to the Infometrics article here).
With these trends in mind, it is not surprising that many tourist operators in regional New Zealand are doing it tough. The five years since the beginning of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) have been extremely trying for tourist operators in regional New Zealand who cater towards longer-staying self-guided tourists from Europe and North America. However, once European and North American economies return to more normal health, there is no reason that arrivals from these parts of the world won’t recover to their pre-GFC level. This recovery will take some time, but at least those operators who have weathered the storm are leaner and more efficient than they were before the downturn and will be well poised to capture any pick-up.
On the other hand, tourism businesses fortunate enough to be exposed to the lift in arrivals from Australia and China have been enjoying permanent structural improvement. Cut-price air travel across the Tasman, as well as a growing number of New Zealand citizens residing in Australia coming home to visit family, are helping to boost arrivals from Australia. At the same time, inbound tourism from China has soared, as the rapid expansion of the Chinese middle class has increased demand for overseas travel to places like New Zealand.