Australian VFR travellers are the key to New Zealand’s tourism

Research from Auckland Airport shows that travellers from Australia who are visiting friends and relatives (VFR) in New Zealand are highly valuable and a market that can be stimulated outside of peak visitor season.

Auckland Airport GM aeronautical commercial Scott Tasker, said: “While the average VFR visitor doesn’t spend as much as the average holiday visitor, significant value can still be derived from large segments of this market across the whole year rather than in peak periods.”

This research challenges the notion that Australian VFR visitors are generally Kiwi expats, returning to spend a week at the family home and rarely participating in activities. In fact, these visitors get out and about, use paid accommodation and transport, and are keen to explore shops, bars, restaurants and activities.

Distribution of Australian visitor arrivals by purpose, by NZ port

Source: Statistics New Zealand, Jan-2017 to Dec-2017

“Nearly half of the Australian VFR market are not Kiwis visiting home, they’re looking for an experience that has typical attributes of a holiday. As a result, they spend more per day, per person than a typical VFR visitor,” says Mr Tasker.

Australian VFR visitors also stimulate spending and domestic tourism among their New Zealand-based hosts and they show a willingness to visit friends and relatives for short periods during the off-peak visitor season.

Average spend (NZD) in Auckland by Auckland visitors, considerers

Source: MBIE International Visitor Survey, Q4 2015 –Q3 2016
Source: AIAL-Kantar TNS AKL VFR Host Survey

Mr Tasker believes the key difference between the VFR market and the holiday market is that the VFR market is stimulated largely by emotive-based messages about connection, rather than destination marketing. Coupled with the inclination to travel during off-peak, this market is an attractive one and provides excellent opportunities to speak to both audiences in Australia and to hosts in New Zealand.