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Research reveals Tiaki could attract more responsible visitors

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New Zealand could attract more responsible and high value visitors due to the recently launched Tiaki Promise, University of Otago research reveals.

Seven key New Zealand organisations joined forces to conceive and develop Tiaki - Care for New Zealand. The initiative was launched in November last year and aims to actively encourage travellers and residents to act as guardians of New Zealand.

Tiaki was developed in part as a response to negative tourist behaviours and seeks to inspire greater respect for the natural environment and local cultures as well as ensure visitor safety.

There is now a dedicated Tiaki channel on Air New Zealand flights and the stakeholders - Air New Zealand, Tourism New Zealand, Department of Conservation, Tourism Industry Aoteroa, Local Government New Zealand, New Zealand Māori Tourism and Tourism Holdings - promote the key messages of Tiaki to their customers, trade partners and staff.

The new research, undertaken by University of Otago tourism researcher Dr Julia Albrecht and social enterprise GOOD Travel co-founder Eliza Raymond, found the initiative was created to positively influence tourist behaviour, and not as a marketing tool.

They interviewed the destination managers and other stakeholders from the seven organisations involved in Tiaki as well as managers and stakeholders involved similar initiatives in Iceland, Palau, Finland and Hawaii.

Dr Albrecht says overseas initiatives, such as the Icelandic Pledge and Palau Pledge, are primarily focused on international visitors, whereas Tiaki is targeting both visitors and residents.

"Through this research we wanted to explore the reasons why so many destination pledges are popping up around the world. Was the primary goal around destination marketing or was this more about destination management?

"We found that several of the organisations involved in the development of Tiaki were adamant that they did not want Tiaki to be seen as a destination marketing tool," she says.

Raymond says it was really interesting to hear that the motivation for Tiaki was clearly about creating a mindset among visitors and residents to protect and care for Aotearoa New Zealand.

However, evidence from Palau suggests that New Zealand might in fact benefit from using Tiaki for marketing purposes, she says.

The New Zealand-Aotearoa Government Tourism Strategy launched in May 2019 seeks to enrich New Zealand-Aotearoa through sustainable tourism growth. One indicator of success described in the strategy is to ensure that visitors have greater awareness of conservation and the importance of following best practice to protect our natural environment, cultural and historic heritage.

"If Tiaki were to become embedded into New Zealand’s destination marketing, visitors to New Zealand attracted because of Tiaki could be exactly the kind of visitors that New Zealand wants," Dr Albrecht says.

"Previous research undertaken in this field has found that consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands and that sustainable travelers often spend more, stay longer and bring higher benefits to local communities including donating and volunteering.

"Tiaki has the potential to become part of New Zealand’s destination brand, attracting visitors from the growing sustainable travel market who wish to leave a positive impact on the places they visit," she says.

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