Auckland’s visitor economy has embarked on a new direction of travel with the launch of Destination AKL 2025 – a new strategy that encourages the sustainable growth of one of Auckland’s and New Zealand’s most important industries.

Destination AKL 2025 has been initiated by Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development (ATEED), Auckland’s economic growth agency, and guided by an industry leadership group spanning the breadth of Auckland’s visitor economy.

Auckland has enjoyed an unprecedented, sustained period of growth in the number of visitors travelling to the region.

This growth is forecast to continue: by 2025, the region is expected to welcome more than 4 million visitors a year (58 per cent more than now), creating an estimated $13.9 billion visitor economy (up 85 per cent).

Mayor Phil Goff says the strategy presents a positive and sustainable vision for Auckland’s visitor economy.

Destination AKL 2025 is a valuable and timely contribution to the discussion we are having about Auckland’s long-term future and how we tackle key challenges such as population growth, prosperity for all, and environmental degradation.

“Crucially, the strategy acknowledges those challenges and accepts the responsibility everyone – including short-term visitors – shares for addressing them.

“Auckland Council recognises the importance of the visitor economy to Auckland, and I believe the new strategy is the right mix of aspiration and actions that in the next few years will turn goals into reality.”

Steve Armitage, General Manager Destination, ATEED, says: “From an economic perspective, more visitors is good news, but this growth comes with challenges for Auckland’s visitor economy, and Auckland as a whole.

“To address this, we’ve developed a strategy which will proactively manage the impact of our visitor economy so that Auckland is better off not just economically, but also socially and environmentally.”

While Auckland has been successfully marketed a destination for some time, Destination AKL 2025 has a greater emphasis on ‘destination management’ – or ensuring future growth in visitor numbers is sustainably managed and of benefit to Auckland, rather than simply attracting greater numbers of visitors.

“This is a moment in time for us all to take a stand for something that is really important. All of us involved in the visitor economy can take a lead on ensuring that we future proof Auckland for tomorrow’s visitors, and also for Aucklanders,” says Steve Armitage.

Extensive consultation was undertaken to create Destination AKL 2025, including hours of interviews, workshops and discussions, as well as international benchmarking and surveys completed by more than 1000 people with an interest in Auckland’s future.

It outlines six strategic imperatives and key focus areas, and a comprehensive list of actions to deliver these:

  • A Unique Place: A region with a unique identity that resonates with residents and visitors alike. Actions include developing the night time economy, enhancing Auckland’s Māori tourism products, and establishing a greeters programme at the airport.
  • A Captivating Place: A region that entices visitors to stay longer and that locals love more than ever. Actions include expanded product on the Hauraki Gulf, and enhancing Auckland’s event calendar with a balanced portfolio throughout the year.
  • A Sustainable Place: A region recognised as a world-leader for taking action on sustainability. Actions include conducting baseline analysis to understand the pressure points in region, setting up a working group and creating an action plan for sector, and attracting major and business events outside of the peak seasons.
  • A Connected Place: A region that is easier to navigate. Actions include improving cyclability, walkability, and way finding; and enhancing visitor journey mapping.
  • A Skilled Place: A region where more young men and women are choosing globally relevant careers in the visitor economy. Actions include developing a visitor sector training and employment strategy for youth.
  • An Insightful Place: A region that makes more informed decisions in the management and marketing of its visitor economy. Actions include using big data to target high-value visitors, prioritising digital channels for effectiveness, efficiency, and measurability.

Martin Snedden, Chair of the Industry Leaders Group which guided the strategy’s development and has endorsed its release, says the ground-breaking collaboration which helped formulate the strategy will also drive its implementation through actions agreed with all stakeholders.

“It is important that all Aucklanders ‘own’ this strategy because it belongs to each of us. We are all guardians of our region and share the responsibility to make Auckland a great destination for visitors, and by extension, a great place to live and work.

“As a leadership group, we believe in the new direction of destination management which has been brought to life in the strategy and are committed to providing ongoing support for its implementation.”