Domestic visitors drive the regional tourism economy


It always seems to surprise our Waikato residents when they hear that our region has the fifth largest visitor expenditure in New Zealand, behind Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.

The next surprise is that the domestic leisure and business traveller pumped $1.192 billion into the regional economy for the year ending September 2018. International visitors currently contribute $368 million annually into our region.

Domestically, Hamilton and Waikato have not traditionally been on the top of the holiday hot-spots for New Zealanders. East coast beaches in other parts of the North Island or snow-capped alpine experiences in the South Island have been strong competition for our region.

However, with the emergence of a number of new attractions, events and experiences across Waikato, the region is now beginning to see the benefits of a growing domestic visitor economy.

The Hamilton and Waikato region has further cemented its place as a key tourism destination by recently winning a domestic tourism growth award at the inaugural Regional Tourism New Zealand (RTNZ) Awards.

Hamilton & Waikato Tourism was named the ‘2018 Best Domestic Tourism Performance’ winner in the tier 2 (mid-sized) regional tourism organisations category.

Sponsored by AA Traveller, this award recognised the importance of the domestic New Zealand tourism market and the need to nurture and grow this sector, as well as the international visitor market.

The award was independently assessed by AA Traveller against four metrics including Net Promoter Score, average length of stay, overnight visitation and visitor expenditure from the Monthly Regional Tourism Estimates (MRTEs).

Lake Wanaka Tourism took out the overall award for the highest domestic tourism growth across the country and Queenstown was named winner for the tier 1 (large) regional tourism organisation category.

Neil Gestro, head of tourism partnerships for AA Travel & Tourism, congratulated the Hamilton & Waikato team on an excellent win.

“Hamilton & Waikato Tourism’s results across all four metrics are commendable and it was great to see the region performing so well,” said Mr Gestro.

For us, the win confirms the region’s position as a leading visitor destination.

This award not only acknowledges the work of our team, but all the hard work across our region – from our tourism and transport operators, accommodation providers, hospitality and retail sector, through to our locals who play host to a significant amount of family and friends from other parts of New Zealand.

So, thanks Waikato – together we are making this region a definite New Zealand ‘must-do’!

Hamilton & Waikato Tourism is the regional tourism organisation charged with increasing international and domestic leisure and business travellers, expenditure and stay. The organisation is funded through a public/private partnership and covers the heartland Waikato areas of Hamilton City, Matamata-Piako, Otorohanga, Waikato, Waipa, South Waikato and Waitomo Districts. Find out more:


About Author

Jason Dawson

Chief Executive, Hamilton & Waikato Tourism