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Tourism NZ under review: England-Hall calls in PwC

20 Apr 2018  By Paul Yandall

A year into the job as Tourism New Zealand’s chief executive, Stephen England-Hall has initiated a major review of the country’s marketing agency that could lead to a significant increase in its work at home.

Stephen England-Hall

After consulting with TNZ’s board and other senior managers, England-Hall has called in professional services firm PwC to take a close look at whether the organisation is structured appropriately to meet its priorities.

PwC is expected to report back in the next couple of weeks to recommend how TNZ can best meet the challenges of a changing consumer landscape in global tourism and how it could shift to become more proactive in the domestic tourism scene.

“It’s not about a change in priorities for the organisation, it’s about how we execute against our priorities,” England-Hall told the Ticker.

“The number one priority for us is to promote NZ as a world-class destination and to attract high-value visitors – that is our core priority. Within that, we have the impact on regional growth, the impact on industry productivity through seasonal arrival, and we are increasingly being asked to lean into advice and guidance to industry and government around visitor experience and destination readiness.”

England-Hall, who was reluctant to use the industry term ‘destination management’ because “we don’t technically have any authority to manage any of it”, said the agency was already intervening in the NZ tourism market but in a reactive way.

Examples included its work on the visiting drivers project, its engagement with the Department of Conservation on the shortened day walks, and TNZ’s contribution to other programmes or work across government.

“For regulatory authorities and regional organisations, we also get asked to provide our opinion and input on visitor planning and destination plans. So, we do all of that [work] today. But what we are seeing is that we just need to take that to another level,” said England-Hall.

“How do we move from being reactive to proactive around ensuring TNZ can help NZ and the agencies involved in NZ to get the best out of tourism growth? That is part of the review but it is certainly not the sole driver of it.”

He said more than 80% of TNZ staff had so far contributed to the review, which he described as a “very inclusive process”.

“I have been here for a year and I have travelled around the world and talked to lots of people in the team and lots of our partners and our key stakeholders,” said England-Hall.

“The question came up: is there a smarter way for us to be working together as an organisation? We thought probably a smart way to help answer that would be to leverage the skills and expertise of an independent party.”

In terms of destination readiness, TNZ could look to its overseas work to help guide its actions at home.

“If you think about the functions within TNZ like deeper insights and storytelling and all the bits and pieces that go around destination strategy thinking, well, we do those things already, we just do them in our offshore markets,” said England-Hall.

“So, how do we make sure we co-ordinate that domestically? I can’t predict what that will look like because I don’t know what PwC will propose. My expectation would be that it would get more impetus within the organisation but I don’t see a separate organisation or component necessarily being set up to do it.”

An update would be provided at TRENZ next month.

England-Hall said NZ had to prepare for a transforming global tourism market. A recent presentation he had attended showed that by 2025 there would be a billion people aged over 65 in Asia alone.

“[They] will have disposable income and will be connected digitally and physically to anywhere they want to go on the planet and a proportion of them will want to choose NZ as a holiday destination,” he said.

“The question then becomes: are we best configured to ensure that the highest value visitors in the market choose us?”

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