It’s a multi-billion-dollar industry attracting millions of backpackers, campers and coach tours every year, as well as employing thousands of New Zealanders to service it. So it’s a mystery as to why tourism doesn’t get the specialist news coverage it warrants. Luckily, two journalists are on the task with the launch of Tourism Ticker, a digital news site for New Zealand’s flourishing tourism industry.
Tourism Ticker is the brainchild of Bridget O’Connell and partner Paul Yandall. The Kiwi pair met while working as financial journalists in London, and having recently moved back to New Zealand together, saw an opportunity to apply their experience in the specialist press to the local market.
“We had a look at a few sectors in New Zealand and tourism took us in,” says O’Connell. “There was nothing digital and daily so we introduced something based on what we knew that we thought would serve the market really well.”
“There's so much news out there, it's a data-rich sector. We've spent our time as data and financial journalists and we just thought that we had something to offer.”
Based out of Wanaka, the website produces national coverage with news, profiles, bulletins and data on those operating in the tourism industry. The website draws on both O'Connell's and Yandall's experiences working for the UK's specialist press, such as property publication Estates Gazette.
"The publication I worked for in the UK had a morning bulletin and an afternoon bulletin...but for New Zealand, we didn't think we needed to deliver all of those things, just doing an 8am morning bulletin was enough of a point of difference and probably enough for the size of the market here. But it was modelled on what we were used to in the UK."
Similarly, Tourism Ticker's commercial model will also be based on the pair's experiences working for the specialist press in the UK by utilising a mix of direct advertising, sponsored content, events and a paywall for revenue.
In launching the website, O'Connell and Yandall also recognised the advertising opportunities inherent in covering one of the country's largest and most affluent sectors, and while the pair is simply looking to concentrate on growing its readership in the short term, the long term will see the website look into developing commercial partnerships.
"We've had initial conversations with key industry suppliers but we're really just concentrating on building an audience," says O'Connell.
"But we will be looking at it. The opportunity's there. We think there's a huge opportunity within the industry because you've got the suppliers who can advertise to buyers within the industry and outside the industry, you can have anyone who wants the tourism industry as clients, whether that's marketers or professional services or corporates. That goes back to being one of the biggest sectors in New Zealand. So we will be looking for a bit of a drive into advertising at some point."
Although the website has only been in operation since February this year, O’Connell says the feedback from industry bodies, operators and regional tourism offices (RTOs) has largely been positive, adding that she's been impressed by the quality of Tourism Ticker's audience so far.
“We get emails saying it’s great, and that they start their day reading our morning bulletin. It's providing something that wasn't there in the industry, so it’s been great getting the feedback.”