Auckland Airport: North American visitor growth to continue
Acting General Manager Aeronautical Commercial Scott Tasker says there is high unmet demand for travel to New Zealand from both the USA and Canada despite the 25 per cent growth in North American visitors since July 2016 and the arrival of United Airlines and American Airlines and the introduction of Air New Zealand’s direct route to Houston.
Speaking at Auckland Airport’s annual International Travel Summit, Mr Tasker said the growth is a result of increased competition, greater airline capacity, lower airfares and better connectivity.
“We could see the potential for significantly greater numbers of high value visitors out of North America at the start of 2016 and that has been achieved through the addition of new routes and new carriers.
“Not only have we had very pleasing visitor growth out of North America but New Zealanders have also been given greater choice with more accessible airfares and many more options for direct connections to other destinations within North America and beyond.
While it is not particularly surprising given the increase in seat capacity, the fact that we experienced an immediate 37% jump in visitors in what is traditionally New Zealand’s low season, July and August 2016, is remarkable,” he said.
Growth out of North America has remained strong with United States visitor numbers to New Zealand growing by 26% or 55,280 arrivals from July 2016 to March 2017, and outward travel by New Zealanders to the US by 21% or 26,200 departures. Auckland Airport believes that there is still untapped demand out of North America.
“Our market modelling shows that both the USA and Canada continue to be underserved by airline capacity by roughly a third of the total market demand potential. This indicates potential to continue to grow inbound visitors from North America,” said Mr Tasker.
“Typically visitors from North America spend more per capita than visitors from other markets and make a large contribution to New Zealand’s foreign exchange earnings from tourism. Greater accessibility through increased airline capacity will provide a significant boost to the economy.”