EDITORIAL: You may think it’s a strange time to be relaunching our travel section, and you’re not wrong. You may think it’s even stranger that this relaunch is a clear vote of confidence that our tourism sector really does have a bright future.
After all, Covid-19 has delivered a hammer blow to the tourism industry, and the popular view is that it’s going to take many years to recover.
But we see it differently. Despite the current gloom and turmoil, we believe in a bright future for travel and tourism, and we have come up with an approach that puts you, our audience, at the centre of it.
Last year, 229,566 people were directly employed in tourism (8.4 per cent of the total workforce), according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. I’ve watched with despair as colleagues and friends in the industry have lost their jobs, and big companies that we thought would always be around have shrunk, or shut up shop altogether.
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I’ve watched with a twinge of fear for my own future too. “Travel editor”, that once-coveted job, now elicits sympathetic “ohs” when I introduce myself to people.
But from the bleak outlook emerged a Covid silver-lining.
The audience on Stuff Travel grew to an all-time high over our first lockdown, and the appetite for domestic travel content from our Back Your Backyard campaign was insatiable. We heard from readers who were rediscovering New Zealand as adults. So many of you told us how you had no idea of the actual variety and value of the unique experiences Aotearoa has to offer.
As our audience grew, so did the number of heart-warming emails and phone calls we received from tourism operators. Our content was having a direct, positive impact on domestic tourism – our readers were out there booking the experiences we showcased, en masse. Some operators credited the interest generated by our coverage for keeping their businesses afloat and their staff employed.
The opportunity spoke for itself: to showcase lesser-known Aotearoa to the 1.47 million New Zealanders who come to Stuff each day. To give small tourism operators a platform to reach their audience. To help regional tourism organisations and travel companies understand New Zealanders and how they want to see their own country. And to play our part in reviving one of our biggest industries.
So we’re relaunching our travel section. You’ll still see all the great content you expect from us, along with a bit of a design makeover that will make it easier to find the stories you’re looking for.
As an important extension to our commitment to enduring reporting on climate change and sustainability through The Forever Project, we’ll also be promoting sustainable and mindful travel. The pandemic has given us an opportunity to reimagine tourism. A chance to press the reset button and implement a style of travel that is slow, appreciative of the value and lessons travel imparts, and less about Insta moments and just ticking off the bucket list.
We’ll show you how to travel in an EV, lesser-known alternatives to the overcrowded and under-pressure hotspots that have suffered the downside of social media fame, highlight travel companies doing great things in sustainability, and bring to life the incredible history behind our well-loved attractions.
Once you’re inspired, we’re also going to give you an easy way to book your next adventure. From flights and accommodation to experiences and Stuff exclusive offers – we want to give our readers everything they need to easily dream, plan and book their next getaway.
Over time, we’d love to build a trusted community of travellers who can share tips, advice and great yarns.
Much like we published our editorial code of ethics, we’re also committing to being honest, transparent, trustworthy and reliable as the place to imagine and realise your holiday. If we get it wrong, please email me at [email protected] and we’ll act quickly to make it right.