Cycle trails can stimulate domestic tourism growth, says AA

By: AA

The AA believes domestic tourism growth can be stimulated by pedal power.

Cycle trails can stimulate domestic tourism growth, says AA
"As cycle trails become more of a destination for people, they’ll spend more time in regions..."

Hundreds of thousands of Kiwis pedal their way around millions of kilometres of roads and tracks in New Zealand every year. The AA is working on encouraging more to do so in an effort to build encourage further economic growth in the domestic sector.

With an annual economic growth target of 4%, the domestic tourism sector managed 3.2% last year, well behind inbound tourism at 7% against a 6% target set by the Tourism Industry Association.

Encouraging New Zealanders to find more reasons to explore their own country is an important element of the AA’s tourism strategy, which has stepped up activity in the sector over the last 12 months.

The New Zealand Cycle Trail Guide 2015, published by AA Traveller, is now available free to anybody keen to hit one or more of the 23 routes on Nga Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail national project. The book is packed full of information about the trails and includes maps, advice on trail sections, section grades, time to allow, elevation and trail quality.

AA Traveller general manager Moira Penman says The New Zealand Cycle Trail Guide 2015 is a collaborative effort between the teams at AA Traveller and the New Zealand Cycle Trail organisation.

"Every year more Kiwis are getting mobile on bikes and are in increasing numbers incorporating them into their outdoor activities.

"Nga Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail provides a huge range of options for cyclists – both new to the game and experienced – to get out and explore significant parts of our country that are often unseen by most."

Ms Penman says while many people have heard about the cycle trails being established and improved through New Zealand since 2009, they don’t necessarily know so many are available or that they suit a wide variety of experience from beginners through to experts.

"We saw an opportunity to create something inspirational for Kiwis and also inbound visitors that was centred on the cycle trails.

"Even for those of us who have seen a lot of this country, the cycle trails provide something different for many, which proves that there is always something new to discover in New Zealand."

Ms Penman says while fresh data is being gathered to better assess their popularity, some limited analysis shows that more people visit a specific region because of the cycle trail there.

"As cycle trails become more of a destination for people, they’ll spend more time in regions they might not have thought of visiting in the past, which is a positive for both tourism operators and accommodation providers and the domestic sector generally."

In a sample of four trails that are part of the Nga Haerenga project, an estimated 132,000 people cycled them in the four months to March 2013, with 100,000 on the 99km Queenstown trail alone.

The more challenging Mountains to the Sea trail, 317km from Tongariro National Park to Wanganui, attracted 8000 cyclists during the same period, 87% of which were visitors to the area. This proportion of visitors was similar for the 11-91km Motu Trails in the eastern Bay of Plenty and the 80 km Hauraki Rail Trail between Thames, Paeroa, Waihi and Te Aroha in the eastern Waikato region.

The New Zealand Cycle Trail Guide 2015 is available at AA Centres, iSite locations, selected accommodation and attraction providers along with Avanti stores and Avanti partners.

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