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Canterbury researchers use social media analysis to understand sustainable tourism

Canterbury researchers use social media analysis to understand sustainable tourism
November 4, 2018

Canterbury researchers are harnessing the power of social media to understand international visitors’ perceptions of sustainable tourism in New Zealand.

Senior economist Dr Peter Fieger from economic development agency ChristchurchNZ has teamed up with University of Canterbury academics Associate Professor Girish Prayag, Professor Michael Hall, and Lecturer Chris Chen, of UC’s Management, Marketing, and Entrepreneurship department in the College of Business & Law to explore how Canterbury can develop its tourism industry sustainably.

Their project, Consumer Perceptions of Sustainable Tourism Practices in The Canterbury Region, has been made possible thanks to a grant from TINZT, (the Tourism Industry New Zealand Trust).

Dr Peter Fieger says the group hope to understand what kind of sustainability operations, products and services and practices are most valued by international visitors to our region.

He explains “tourism contributes $3.5 billion to the Canterbury economy; however, increasing tourism numbers are negatively impacting travel destinations and travel experiences across the globe.

“In Canterbury, our boutique towns, natural wonders and pristine scenery with their fragile ecosystems will be under pressure unless we identify and adopt initiatives to champion sustainable tourism practices.”

While much is known about sustainable tourism indicators for destinations and communities globally, little is known about how visitors to New Zealand feel about current sustainability practices and whether they’re hitting the mark.

Dr Prayag (pictured below) says that by analysing online customer reviews and surveying international visitors, the team hope to identify some key themes and sentiments about what sustainable practices and initiatives are valued by this market.

Dr Prayag advises “this is an exciting research opportunity to harness the power of social media analysis and artificial intelligence techniques to gain valuable insights into visitor perception, which can in turn inform industry practices and policy-making.”

Results from the analysis are being provided to Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) to better inform the main sustainability practices valued by international visitors which can influence tourism product development in order to position of current experiences and improve marketing strategies, allowing the region to collectively manage our offering in a more sustainable way.

ChristchurchNZ General Manager of Destination and Attraction Loren Heaphy welcomes the findings, adding “it’s exciting to see Christchurch undertaking cutting edge research and analysis which could lead to significant positive outcomes for our destination and our visitor experience.”

TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts says TIA is pleased that Dr Peter Fieger has received TINZT funding for his work with the University of Canterbury on consumer perceptions of sustainable tourism practices in the Canterbury region

Roberts concludes “achieving sustainable growth is the biggest challenge and opportunity for the New Zealand tourism industry.

“TIA’s Tourism Sustainability Commitment was launched last November and we are very pleased with the uptake by industry, with nearly 500 businesses or organisations having signed up to date.

“We see Dr Fieger’s research as providing important new knowledge on how our visitors perceive our sustainability practices. This insight will help operators to operate smarter in designing their practices to meet the needs of visitors and so raise the bar of industry sustainability performance. While this research is based in Canterbury, we expect the findings to be relevant across New Zealand.

“International visitors to our country spend $14.5 billion a year, therefore it’s vital that we understand their views on tourism in our country to inform our work.”

The New Zealand Tourism Sustainability Commitment aims to see every New Zealand tourism business committed to sustainability by 2025. Canterbury operators are among those signed up to the pledge with a vision to lead the world in sustainable tourism, which research shows is highly valued by visitors.

Related Articles

23rd July 2018 - Holiday parks key to sustainable tourism growth across New Zealand’s regions

18th May 2018 - ChristchurchNZ names new General Manager of Destination and Attraction

14th November 2017 - New Zealand tourism industry aims for sustainability

18th October 2017 - Heli Tours Queenstown recognised for sustainable tourism achievements

10th May 2017 - Actions to supercharge future success of New Zealand tourism

14th March 2017 - Survey reveals depth of New Zealand tourism infrastructure needs

12th February 2017 - Global tourism bodies welcome International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017

9th January 2017 - Research shows New Zealanders support tourism

4th November 2016 - Addressing climate change a must for sustainable tourism programs

7th October 2014 - Partnership to boost sustainable tourism across the South Pacific

17th August 2014 - Canterbury Tourism Partnership gets New Zealand Government funding

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