Despite the large potential for growth, the majority of New Zealand tourism small- and medium- enterprises (SME) have a low awareness of Latin America, according to a study sponsored by the Latin America CAPE and the University of Otago Business School.

The 2018 study aimed to identify the business needs of New Zealand tourism businesses in relation to tourists from Latin America, based on electronic surveys and semi-structured interviews of such businesses. According to the survey, low engagement with visitors from Latin America is attributed to SMEs lack of confidence in the growth of this market, relatively low visitor numbers from the region, and limited resources on the part of the SMEs.

Tourism is a critical part of New Zealand’s economy, representing around 10% of the annual GDP according to Tourism New Zealand. Latin American countries represent a largely untapped source of tourism with significant growth potential for New Zealand. For example, the number of visitors from Brazil and Argentina increased 95% between 2015-2017, potentially influenced by the opening of a direct Air New Zealand Buenos Aires - Auckland flight in 2015.

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The study also found that Latin America CAPE could support SMEs by offering detailed analyses of the Latin American visitor market, language guidance, provision of marketing channels and contacts, and support for low-cost opportunities for marketing in Latin American regions.

The results of this study will be used to help create LatAm CAPE’s Cultural Acumen Tourism Training programme in 2019, which aims to improve service quality, develop stronger ties and grow New Zealand’s tourism industry through better understanding of Latin American languages, culture, and business practices.

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