Australian visitor numbers to New Zealand have now fallen for six consecutive months with the June overseas arrival and departure stats showing a -1.5% slump over last year, presenting a major challenge for Andrew Waddel, who has just been appointed GM Australia for Tourism New Zealand.

May was down -2.3%, March -2.9%, February -2.5% and January -1.0%. It’s a worry because Australia is by far and away New Zealand’s most important inbound market.

Waddel has a strong background in consumer marketing including a five year stint as Marketing Director of Red Bull Australia.

While his approach to marketing NZ in Australia is yet to be revealed, Wadel says: “I have a simple career philosophy – leave the brands and the people I work with in a better place than when I started.

“It should not be complicated: be clear on a brand’s purpose, set the strategy to deliver it and invest in the people and team culture that will ensure success.”

Update August 29, 2018: Andrew Waddel has provided written answers to following questions posed by

There’s been a consistent decline in the number of Australians visiting New Zealand this year. Why do you think this is happening?

We’ve seen Australian holiday arrivals soften in the past few months, and year on year figures are down by -1.4%. The good news is there’s been no change in the levels of appeal, consideration and preference for New Zealand compared to a year ago. In the July month we saw a turnaround with +7% growth on last year.

How do you plan to reinvigorate Australian tourism interest in NZ?

Tourism New Zealand invests its budget into promoting off peak travel to spread the benefits tourism delivers to the country across the year. Winter is also a growing focus for us. For the year ending July 2018, more than 582,000 Australians holidayed in New Zealand, spending just over 10 days in New Zealand. Almost 140,000 of these Australian visitors travelled to New Zealand in spring for their holiday (just under a quarter of all holiday arrivals for the FY18 period).

In addition to promoting shoulder season travel, we will continue to encourage Australians to travel beyond the gateway cities and incorporate regions into their itineraries.

What specific actions is TNZ taking to turn this trend around?

Spring and autumn offer the strongest opportunity to drive seasonal arrivals to New Zealand from Australia. Our North and South Island road trip campaigns aim to do just that. We know from research Australian’s love to road trip without the stress and hassle of long distances. This allows for discovery and is the best way to explore the country. More than 70% of Australians self-drive during their stay to New Zealand and enjoy visiting different regions – so our road trips campaigns resonate well.

The 100% Pure New Zealand campaign has been around for many years and it could be argued has lost its edge with Australian consumers. What are your thoughts?          

The 100% Pure New Zealand campaign is now in its 19th year and is continues to be extremely successful. The beauty of the campaign is that it is adaptable – the current campaign ‘where one journey leads to another’, targets our key strategic priority of getting more international visitors to visit our regions so the benefits of international visitation to the country are felt far and wide. To change the campaign now would be to lose the significant value that has been built up over time, but it is always evolving – watch this space!

What do you think NZ represents to Aussie travel consumers?

New Zealand remains the number one outbound destination for Australian international holiday makers. With a land area larger than the UK and more than two-thirds the size of Japan and Germany, a lake the size of Singapore, a mountain chain bigger than the entire European Alps, and a coastline longer than that of California, Alaska and Florida combined, it’s unfathomable that so many Australians still haven’t been to New Zealand.

New Zealand’s a holiday destination that is close and easy to travel to, with unique experiences that only kiwis can offer. It’s our role to remind Australians of that, and encourage them to push New Zealand higher up on their to-do list.

I am coming into the role and the industry with an open mind and with the knowledge a huge amount of work has been done on consumer segmentation and targeting.  To really understand consumers, you need to ask a lot of questions to get to strong insights and ensure they’re actionable. 

Our strategy will build on the great work already in place with partners, tapping into the existing segments in the Australian market, and finding a few more.


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