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Australia remains NZ’s top travel destination according to latest Nielsen data

3 minute read | May 2024

Plus, the brands spending big to attract Kiwi tourists

  • Industry’s biggest ad spenders revealed as travel marketing budgets jump 2%
  • Top local and overseas destinations revealed
  • Most popular NZ travel websites
  • Winners of the frequent flyer war 

Auckland May 21, 2024 – As the weather cools, more than 160,000 New Zealanders are looking for a much-needed overseas getaway, with relaxing and warm destinations topping their list of places to visit in the next 12 months, while travel brands are spending millions to get their business.

Additionally, Nielsen Consumer Media Insights (CMI) data shows that 77% of Kiwis plan on travelling domestically in the next 12 months, with 76% of them saying spending time with friends and family is their main reason for getting away.

Top domestic destinations

When it comes to travelling domestically, Queenstown is the number one destination, followed by Christchurch/Canterbury, Auckland, Wellington, then Rotorua.

Top overseas destinations

Australia remains the top overseas travel destination for Kiwis, with Sydney topping the list, followed by the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Brisbane, Western Australia, Adelaide, and Far North Queensland.

After Australia, the UK and Europe are the most desired OS destinations, with the Pacific Islands, the USA and Canada, and Asia close behind.

Top travel websites

Data from Nielsen NZ NOR also saw Air New Zealand claim top spot when it comes to travel websites in Q1, 2024, followed by Booking Holdings Network and Trip Advisor.

Top frequent flyer programs

The number of New Zealanders who are members of a frequent flyer program also increased, with data revealing travellers are now members of multiple rewards programs. Of those planning to travel in the next 12 months 59% are Flybuys members, followed by AA Smartfuel/Countdown OneCard members (58%), Air New Zealand Airports members (57%) and New World Club Cards members (52%).

Top travel advertisers

In addition, Nielsen Ad Intel data shows that New Zealand’s travel and tourism industry invested almost $225 million into advertising between April 2023 to March 2024 – a 2% increase on the same period year-on-year.

During that time, Flight Centre was the nation’s top ad spender, followed by Air New Zealand, then House of Travel.

Nielsen Ad Intel’s Pacific Commercial Lead, Rose Lopreiato, said: “New Zealanders’ passion for travel remains strong, evidenced by an increase in travel ad spend this quarter. This uptick highlights marketers’ and advertisers’ commitment to maximising ROI, while building lasting brand connections. Ad Intel provides a competitive edge by delivering detailed insights into competitors’ ad strategies, market messaging, and promo offers, allowing you to outpace them.”

Glenn Channell, Nielsen’s Pacific Head of Advanced Analytics added: “More than ever, brands need data that gives them the edge on their competition. That means going above standard demographic information, and understanding consumers, in this case travellers, as unique groups, who are motivated by more than just the urge to get away. Nielsen’s CMI enables brands to see consumers through an advanced audience lens, delivering a more holistic picture of behaviours and preferences with surprising linkages and purchase triggers that other consumer insight providers can’t match.”

About Nielsen

Nielsen shapes the world’s media and content as a global leader in audience measurement, data and analytics. Through our understanding of people and their behaviours across all channels and platforms, we empower our clients with independent and actionable intelligence so they can connect and engage with their audiences – now and into the future. Nielsen operates around the world in more than 55 countries. 

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Media Contact

Dan Chapman
Assoc. Director, Communications, Nielsen APAC
+61 404 088 462