This article discusses the area of adventure tourism in New Zealand and Australia. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on international tourism in all countries of the world, which is also reflected in Australia and New Zealand’s activities. However, some of the unique features of these states, as well as adventure tourism that is central to them, have likely narrowed the gap between participation (supply) and consumption (demand) in this area. However, since the data and literature on this topic are limited, the main issue and purpose of the study are to compare and define the gap between supply and demand of adventure tourism to understand the need for intervention.
Tourism is one of the most widespread and profitable industries for many countries in the world due to the diversity of the cultures and nature of the planet. Australia and New Zealand also belong to this category of countries. They are located at a relative distance from the rest of the world and have unique nature, landscapes, and architecture that attract tourists. For this reason, one of the popular tourist destinations in Australia and New Zealand is adventure tourism, which includes exploring the unique flora and fauna and more extreme activities such as walking on a glacier or swimming with sharks.
However, the 2020 pandemic has impacted all countries around the world and hit tourism the most due to border closures and people’s fears of travel. Nevertheless, unlike many countries, Australia and New Zealand survived this period quite easily due to the authorities’ timely response and quarantine measures. Australia had only 28,5 thousand cases of COVID-19, and New Zealand had only 1218 (“Coronavirus,” 2021; “COVID-19”, 2021). Today Australia and New Zealand have less than five new cases of coronavirus for the last 24 hours (“Coronavirus,” 2021; “COVID-19”, 2021). For this reason, it is still not clear whether there is an imbalance between Australia and New Zealand’s participation and consumption in adventure tourism, or supply and demand. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to compare the supply and demand for adventure tourism services in Australia and New Zealand to determine if interventions are needed to support these countries’ businesses.
Participation in Adventure Tourism
Tourism areas are divided depending on the resources of the country and the desires of buyers. For this reason, part of the population prefers to rest in hotels and on the beaches, another wants to visit top clubs and restaurants, and the third part intends to spend an active holiday. The resources, flora and fauna, and landscapes of New Zealand and Australia allow them to offer various outdoor activities for tourists. Buckley (2018) defines active tourism services for the commercial service sector aimed at immersive customer experiences, usually active and outdoors. In addition, adventure tourism includes products that are principally based on wildlife activities but provide intense emotional experiences and a degree of risk (Buckley, 2018). For example, these services include rock and ice climbing, kayaking, rafting, hiking, diving, ballooning, surfing, bungee jumping, shark watching, and other services that cause a rush of adrenalin and delight. All of these adventures available in New Zealand and Australia due to their unique geography.
Usually, commercial adventure tourism involves many people in the interaction, since with the risk and danger of many services of this tourism, companies must ensure the safety of customers. For example, any company providing diving, parasailing, parachuting, and ballooning services includes several specialists. Among them are experienced instructors who familiarize customers with the safety rules and use of equipment, technical personnel, such as an airplane or balloon pilot, and administrators who coordinate staff and clients. In addition, the team may also include a photographer, although most often his or her services are not included in the price. Insurance companies that provide health and life insurance for a person or a company that is responsible for the adventures are also indirectly involved. In some cases, travel companies are also included in the process, since they are intermediaries between customers and providers, for example, in an all-inclusive vacation package. Consequently, this structure demonstrates that a multitude of people participate in the provision of leisure adventure services and create its supply.
Adventure Tourism in Australia
Australia’s geographical position has created a unique and favorable environment for the country to participate in adventure tourism and its development. Firstly, Australia is located in several climatic zones, which determines the presence of tropical islands and tropical forests, suitable coast for a beach holiday, and deserts, which occupies most of the continent (Huddart & Stott, 2019). Secondly, Australia has a variety of landscapes and natural features such as rivers, oceans, lakes, mountains, waterfalls, forests, plains, and deserts that are attractive to tourists. Thirdly, this diversity of climate and landscapes, as well as the geographical remoteness of the continent from other countries, allowed the development and formation of unique flora and fauna. About 85% of flowering plants, 84% of mammals. 45% of birds and 89% of fish are endemic, meaning they live only on this continent (Huddart & Stott, 2019). The most famous animals are the kangaroo, koalas, and dingo dog, and the Great Barrier Reef is one of the most significant, unique, and diverse ecosystems in the world.
All these features enable travel companies to offer tourists an adventure that they cannot experience in other countries of the world. In addition, Australia’s status as one of the most developed countries also allows the government to enchase infrastructure and make visits to various natural sites convenient, safe, and exciting for tourists. One example of developed infrastructure is the ability to sail along the Horizontal Falls in Western Australia on a jet boat, which fascinates tourists with speed and danger, and magical views (Huddart & Stott, 2019). Other examples are sky diving near the largest cities in Australia and scuba diving on the Barrier Reef (Huddart & Stott, 2019). Although these technologies are not new to the tourism industry, the organization of permanent tours for thousands of people observing safety and service standards is possible only when quality infrastructure is created.
Australia also has many other adventure tourism options to suit all tastes. These include hiking to the largest sandstone Uluru Kamen, boat, horse, or four-wheel-jungle tours at Cape Tribulation, kayaking and rafting in national parks, whale shark snorkeling, desert visits, and sailing (Huddart & Stott, 2019). In addition, most of these adventures involve observing the local fauna and flora, which is an exciting experience for tourists due to its uniqueness and diversity. At the same time, tourists can find adventure without even leaving the big cities, since they are located on the coasts, and travel agencies also offer interesting experiences. For instance, one of the famous adventures is climbing on the Sydney Harbor Bridge (Huddart & Stott, 2019). Moreover, according to the report of the Adventure Travel Trade Association and International Institute of Tourism Studies (2020), Australia has a 9.08 points score in assessing the favorableness of entrepreneurship for adventure tourism companies. This fact and the presence of developed infrastructure and unique attractions demonstrate that the participation of Austria in adventure tourism is at a high level, which is reflected in a high supply.
Adventure Tourism of New Zealand
New Zealand’s geography and geology have made it an even more unique and attractive destination for tourists. New Zealand is an island state and consists of the two main landmasses, the North and the South Island, as well as 600 smaller islands including Fiji, New Caledonia, and Tonga (Huddart & Stott, 2019). However, more attractive to tourists are New Zealand landscapes, which create unique places to visit in different parts of the country. Firstly, New Zealand is located in the active Taupo Volcanic Zone; thus, tourists have the opportunity to see active geysers and volcanoes. In addition, the South Island is divided by the Southern Alps, which have eight peaks above 3000m (9,800ft) (Huddart & Stott, 2019). At the same time, the main part of the country has a warm climate that allows tourists to enjoy their beach holidays. New Zealand is also famous for its rainforests, which are home to endemic flora and fauna. However, the most unusual feature for tourists is that there are glaciers inhabited by penguins in a country with a subtropical and temperate climate (Huddart & Stott, 2019). Thus, New Zealand provides a variety of natural sites that are favorable to the development of adventure tourism.
Moreover, New Zealand, like Australia, is a country with a high level of economic development, a significant part of which is invested in tourism development. For this reason, tour operators have many variations of adventure tourism for visitors to the country. First, operators offer mountains for paragliding and hiking through national parks or up Mount Cook, New Zealand’s tallest peak. The Remarkables ridge is a famous skiing destination, and tourists can also try caving at Waitomo Caves (Huddart & Stott, 2019). However, although many of these adventures are available for independent travelers, most often, tourists need guides and accompanying persons; thus, travel providers are highly engaged.
Furthermore, fjords are usually great kayaking spots, and the Tongariro River in Lake Taupo and Rotorua waterfall is the most popular place for whitewater rafting (Huddart & Stott, 2019). This adventure is extremely dangerous for an unprepared tourist; therefore, visitors are usually allowed on the water accompanied by an instructor. Visiting the Fox Glacier and Taupo Volcanic Zone is also one of the most popular tourist attractions, requiring specialized vehicles and guides. In addition, operators can offer a wildlife watching safari tour or a trip to the colossal dunes of Nine Mile Beach (Huddart & Stott, 2019). Other activities include whale watching, swimming with dolphins, sky diving, and scuba diving.
In addition, the prominence of New Zealand’s attractions and its high ranking in the travel organization lists confirm the country’s increased involvement in adventure tourism. For example, according to the Adventure Travel Trade Association and International Institute of Tourism Studies (2020), New Zealand ranks second among developed countries for adventure travel, while Australia is ranked tenth. In addition, the New Zealand Entrepreneurship Index also rose to 9.46 points in 2020. Thus, these facts demonstrate that New Zealand actively participates in adventure tourism and has a high supply in this area.
The concept of tourism consumption is complex and heterogeneous as it cannot be assessed as consumption or demand for goods. According to Thano and Kote (2015), “Tourism consumption represents spending generated by tourism demand which aims at obtaining a number of goods and services” (p. 105). In other words, consumption is determined by the spending of visitors on tourism services that can include such categories as food, accommodation, fees for visiting tourist sites, transportation, souvenirs, entertainment, equipment rental, and other additional services. At the same time, although the exact evaluation of tourism consumption is a complex task, the overall situation of tourism demand in the country can be reflected by the number of visitors, the amount of tourist tax, and the size of GDP brought by this sector.
Adventure Tourism Consumption in Australia
Australian government data and reports show that tourism consumption is relatively high and is an important part of the Australian economy, although this level has declined significantly in recent years. According to Huddart and Stott (2019), tourism contributed 3% or A$ 47.5 billion GDP to the economy in 2014-2015, and the country was visited by 7.4 million people. Domestic tourism was also at a high level as 73% of direct tourism GDP came from Australian tourists (Huddart & Stott, 2019). However, forest fires in Australia and the COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in border closures and restrictions on foreign visitors have significantly impacted tourism consumption. Tourism Research Australia reported that tourism generated 50.4 billion or 2.5% of GDP in 2019-2020 (“Measuring the impact,” 2020). However, the largest decline occurred in the first half of 2020, since the level of visitors’ spending decreased by 25% to 33.3 billion, and the number of international tourists declined by 26% to 6.8 million (“International visitor,” 2020). The level of domestic tourism also decreased due to the need for social distancing and quarantine restrictions. Australia’s total loss due to reduced domestic tourism consumption from January to June 2020 was $ 21.7 billion (“National visitor,” 2020). However, these reports do not reflect changes in adventure tourism, particularly, as well as other literature. Hence, one can judge consumption in this area of tourism only by the supply of services, which is significant due to the natural and infrastructural features of Australia.
Adventure Tourism Consumption in New Zealand
The New Zealand government’s tourism reports also do not yet show full details of industry changes in 2020. However, even in the early 2020 situation, one can note that New Zealand tourism consumption has decreased. According to Huddart and Stott (2019), tourism direct contribution in 2016 was NZ $ 12.9 billion or 5.6% of GPD, and indirect contribution was 4.3% of GPD, or NZ $ 8.9 billion. At the same time, foreign tourist spending accounted for 17.1% of New Zealand’s export earnings (Huddart & Stott, 2019). However, the pandemic also affected tourism in New Zealand as well as other countries, which significantly reduced consumption. For example, the number of international visitors decreased 5.6 percent (215,789) in the year ended March 2020, even though this period covers only the beginning of the pandemic and does not yet reflect the total loss of international tourism (“Tourism satellite account,” 2020). These figures also do not reflect changes in the field of adventure tourism, since they do not specify the tourism industry. The literature on this topic is also incomplete or outdated to determine the consumption or demand for adventure tourism accurately. However, the peculiarities of New Zealand’s location and its status as one of the best countries for adventure tourism allow one to assume that the pandemic has affected this industry as significantly as tourism in general.
Understanding current industry trends allows governments to allocate resources and channel them towards developing profitable industries rationally. For Australia and New Zealand, tourism is an important part of the economy as natural resources, and unique places allow the government to attract visitors that bring income to the budget without significant efforts. Reports on the tourism industry in 2020 show that this area has suffered losses due to the effects of the pandemic, although the information is not yet complete (“Tourism satellite account,” 2020; “Measuring the impact,” 2020). Nevertheless, the main tendencies in this area are generally understandable, especially considering the global changes in international tourism.
However, information on changes in adventure tourism for Australia and New Zealand is limited and does not reflect current trends, even though it takes a significant place in the economies of the countries. At the same time, while international tourism to Australia and New Zealand has diminished due to border closures and human concerns, the pandemic can also provide some benefit to the adventure tourism of the states. Since both countries have low morbidity rates and developed infrastructure, domestic tourism may increase due to international tourism restrictions and some social events. However, available statistics show the opposite tendencies of tourism in countries (“National visitor,” 2020). Consequently, the limited literature and data on adventure and tourism make it difficult to accurately assess whether there is a significant gap between participation and consumption of adventure tourism and whether interventions are needed to stimulate this area’s development. Thus, the main research question is, “What is the size of the gap between participation (supply) and consumption (demand) adventure tourism of New Zealand and Australia?”
The most plausible and appropriate research methodology for the study is quantitative research, where explicit numeric values will be analyzed in order to derive an accurate estimate of the gap between participation and consumption of adventure tourism in Australia and New Zealand. One of the initial measures will revolve around identifying and deriving data from essential data from key databases as well as conducting surveys in order to determine the supply or participation rates. The methodological framework will be based on building a valid sample of adventure tourism providers, where these organizations will be contacted in order to acquire data on the visitor count in 2020. Therefore, the overall approach will be similar to the International Visitor Survey (IVS) methodology of Tourism Research Australia, where it halted its IVS during the pandemic due to the lack of interviewing opportunities (“International visitors survey methodology,” 2020). Thus, the visitor estimates were taken from Overseas Arrivals and Departures (OAD), which will also be used by the given research.
It is important to note that short-term international and national travels will be indicative of the upper limit of the potential gap in question. The separate data from adventure tourism providers will define the lower limit of the value range, which enables setting clear and concise boundaries of the possible gap between participation and consumption. In addition, in order to determine the demand, the adventure tourism providers will also be assessed in regards to their current maximum capacities to accept the tourists, which will reveal the key insights into the existing trend. It is also important to take into account the previous years’ data, which will be helpful in establishing the correct change values over time. Data reliability will be primarily assessed on the basis of the statistical significance and confidence intervals of 95%.
Quantitative research includes bare facts as numbers, and quantitative data are structured and statistically processed. Therefore, it is important to understand that they help to draw general conclusions from the study. Qualitative data provides descriptive information rather than measuring information, and this can be the impressions, opinions, or views of people. A qualitative survey is less structured, where it seeks to analyze the topic in-depth in order to obtain information about people’s motivations, their views, and attitudes. Such an approach, on the one hand, provides a depth of understanding of the research questions, and on the other hand, it complicates the analysis of the results. Thus, in order to properly address the research question, it is necessary to apply a quantitative method.
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