Tourism businesses needing digital transformation support to adapt to a Covid-era market can now tap into the Government’s $20m digital capability funding.
Tourism minister Kelvin Davis and small business minister Stuart Nash have set out details of the how the funding would be allocated with tourism to receive $10m of the funding via the Tourism Recovery Package, as announced in August.
The $10m ringfenced for tourism is being split into $5m to boost digital capability in the tourism sector through existing digital enablement programmes, and $5m for Qualmark to help operators develop strategies and skills.
Key initiatives within the $20m package – half of which is for SMEs as announced in Budget 2020 – included the appointment of industry specialists by Qualmark to provide a series of one-on-one advice.
“Recent Qualmark analysis of 700 tourism businesses found more than half needed support with digital capability,” Davis said.
“This investment in digital tools and training will help tourism businesses develop digital strategies, increase their visibility and appeal, and tap into new markets.”
“In the past, many smaller tourism businesses haven’t had to invest in strong digital marketing to find customers, because of the volume of international visitors and the role of travel agents and tour operators to bring people to their door.”
Key areas of support would be strategic digital marketing, search engine optimisation, organic growth, website performance and online booking system audits. Online advertising and paid media, social media content and creation, conversion optimisation, lead generation and measuring success would also be supported.
Another initiative would see digital skills training and support focused on enabling SMEs, including tourism SMEs, to benefit from digitising their business.
Thirdly, private sector support to put together the most relevant digital tools, technologies, products and services to support small businesses with becoming digital, including offerings tailored for the tourism sector would be on offer.
A fourth initiative is the creation of a ‘Spotlight Series’ where small business owners, including tourism businesses, who have transformed their business by becoming digital can share their experiences.
“Tourism businesses are now pivoting towards the intrepid domestic traveller who likes to shop around online and book their own holiday, so operators now find their websites, booking systems and social media platforms need to be redeveloped or outsourced to a specialist provider as they feel they lack the capability and resources to take on the job themselves,” Davis said.
“This funding will make a real difference and builds on the support we’re delivering through the Tourism Transitions Programme, which has already provided business support and advice to over 1,500 tourism businesses impacted by Covid-19.”
Davis added that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment was working with the Ministers’ Small Business Advisors and Digital Industry Leaders to ensure the design of the initiatives was driven by business, and were useful, accessible and would build digital confidence.
Tourism operators could find out more about the Qualmark support by visiting the Qualmark website and more details would be available on the business.govt.nz website.
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