Wellington Scoop

Backpackers learn how to future proof their tourism industry

Press Release – Backpacker Youth and Adventure Tourism Association
Future proofing New Zealand as a tourism destination was the focus of the eighth annual Backpacker Youth & Adventure Tourism Association (BYATA) Conference held in Wellington at Te Papa.

Representatives from across New Zealand’s tourism industry gathered for the sold-out, two-day conference, which featured a jam-packed line-up of guest speakers who touched on all aspects of how tourism dispersal and diversity was the key to future proofing New Zealand as a tourism destination.

Kicking things off was Futurist Dave Wild, who challenged delegates to consider different types of reality and what the younger demographics are learning now when seeking how to diversify and innovate for the future.

Then, Dr. Sven Hansen of the Resilience Institute helped delegates bounce back with invaluable tips on how to achieve the optimal state of ‘flow’ in work and in life and how to be better, more resilient people (hint: better sleep habits and deep breathing are key).

Research & Benchmarking

Ella Frater of Tourism New Zealand shared the latest finding and focus of TNZ’s backpacker campaigns, sharing specific insights into the lifestyle and habits of young backpackers from the UK and Germany. Also sharing their latest research was Hostelworld’s Sammy Pearse-Marmont with a report on backpacker booking trends that showed continued positive growth for New Zealand destinations through their platform. Angus and Associates presented an update on the BYATA tracking research, which always provides invaluable insight into what’s happening in the industry, as well as highlighted a few changes to the tracking survey going forward.

Practical Business Updates

Andrew Johns from the Ministry of Business and Employment was on hand again this year to discuss the latest changes to temporary work visas and how it could impact tourism employment. Also returning was Andrew Shaw from Lane Neave to speak on special considerations when working in a high risk industry like adventure tourism in light of the changes to health and safety laws that came into effect 16 months ago.

New Zealand Case Studies

As part of the conference’s focus on future proofing, there were several presentations on what others in the tourism industry are already doing. Lisa Daniell spoke of Air New Zealand’s sustainability projects to preserve NZ culture and upgrade their fleet for better fuel efficiency. NZ Cycle Trails’ Craig Wilson gave great insight into how the 2,500km of the NZ Cycle Trail network are promoting authentic travel experiences with positive regional impact, all with a goal of making New Zealand one of the top 10 cycling destinations in the world.

The Department of Conservation’s Lynelle Greer spoke about DOC’s upcoming campaign to promote the amazing Short Walks & Day Walks that can be found around the country, encouraging more domestic and international visitors to try the shorter walks as a way to ease some of the pressure on ‘hot spots’ like the Tongariro Crossing and Milford Track.

Inspiration and a Challenge:

A highlight of the conference was Nadine Toe Toe’s presentation on the work done by Kohutapu Lodge & Tribal Tours to use tourism to introduce positive change in the struggling community of Murupara, where they regularly bring their international visitors to the Murupara Area School to spend time interacting with and opening the young minds of the school kids. Nadine was joined by some of the children benefiting from this community project, who stole the show with a moving kapa haka performance and by practicing their networking skills with the conference delegates.

2015 Nuffield Scholar, farmer and eco-tourism operator, Dan Steele of Blue Duck Station challenged the delegates to seriously think about how tourism operators are future proofing not only their businesses, but the country as a whole. He stressed how society’s everyday habits are negatively impacting the authentic diversity and beautiful natural environment that are the backbone of New Zealand’s identity and appeal as a tourism destination.

BYATA Annual General Meeting

This year’s AGM marked some big changes on the BYATA Board. After three years of incredible dedication, Brian Westwood of YHA New Zealand says goodbye as Chairman. Mary Tolley of Te Puia is stepping into the Chair role, the first woman to hold the position. Haka Director Ryan Sanders will back Mary as Vice Chair and Chris Barton of Westpac will take over the role of Treasurer.

The first meeting of the new BYATA Board is planned for Thursday 28th September in Auckland at Tourism New Zealand.

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