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Thursday, September 17

Backpackers Urged to “Go All The Way”

Tourism New Zealand is targeting the youth and backpacker market with a new campaign urging them to “Go All The Way” … to New Zealand.

The campaign was launched today (Thursday) at New Zealand’s first-ever Backpacker Industry Conference held at AUT (Auckland University of Technology).

George Hickton said younger travellers and backpackers had continued to travel during the economic downturn, showing their resilience as a sector. This campaign was to ensure that New Zealand was on the list of places they wanted to visit.

Many backpackers from the UK and Europe go as far as Australia in their gap-year, but we want to challenge them to complete the journey and ‘Go All The Way’ by coming down to New Zealand,’ Mr Hickton said.

According to the International Visitor Survey, New Zealand welcomed 183,100 backpackers – those defined as spending over 30 per cent of their stay in backpacker accommodation – in the year to June 2009, up 4 per cent. This compares with an overall decline in arrivals of 2.8 per cent to 2.4 million in the year to July.

Tourism New Zealand worked with Backpacker Industry Organisation NZBackpack.com and Youth Hostels Association to research the youth and backpacker market and to devise the new campaign.

We found that despite the economic downturn, youth travellers are not put off by ticket prices and they are very driven to get to the destinations they want to see. New Zealand is seen as worth the effort, but in this competitive market we need to push them to make that commitment to get here,” Mr Hickton said.

The focus for the new campaign will be the Northern Hemisphere markets, including the UK and Europe, ahead of the busy summer peak travel months.

Mr Hickton said though some saw backpackers as low spenders, they stay longer than the average, which means their overall spend by the end of their trip is higher.

They also tend to travel widely around New Zealand taking their spending into regions which then benefit from the visits,” Mr Hickton said.

The new campaign will run predominantly online, kicked off with a partnership with social networking website Bebo. www.bebo.com/thegapyear

Bebo is creating an online reality TV show - The Gap Year:Challenge New Zealand - that will follow five competitors as they travel around New Zealand taking part in challenges. The Bebo community will be encouraged to vote for activities and winners as the competition progresses. Competitors will also keep blogs and online diaries.