Post-Covid tourism boost as overseas anglers return to New Zealand

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More than 13,500 international anglers took to the water in pursuit of New Zealand’s renowned wild trout during the recent fishing season, according to data from Fish & Game NZ.

While this is down on pre-Covid-19 levels, Fish & Game chief executive Corina Jordan says it is pleasing to see the numbers start to build again.

“Industry-wide, tourism is sitting at around 50 per cent of where it was before Covid-19 hit,” she says.

“This season, our non-resident angling tracked at around 75 percent of pre-Covid levels.

“While we are still awaiting data from the Taupo area, figures for the rest of the country show how highly valued our trout fishery is amongst the international angling community.

“New Zealand is renowned for having the best trout fishery in the world, with anglers drawn from all corners of the globe to pit their skills against our fish.

“Catching a large, wild New Zealand trout in crystal clear water, amid spectacular scenery, is often referred to as ‘the Everest’ of trout fishing internationally.

“Previous research also shows that international trout anglers are big spenders – they’re among the highest value tourists because of the outlay on things like luxury lodges, helicopter transport, fishing guides, fine dining and wine.

“These are the sorts of tourists New Zealand wants to see flocking back: high net value, relatively low impact.

“One of the other great things about the return of non-resident anglers is that most of their spending is in the regions, where the best fishing is located. This spreads tourism further afield than our main centres, so it’s making a valuable contribution not just to the broader economy, but to regional areas as well.”

Fish & Game NZ has commissioned research to quantify the value of the trout fishery to regional economies which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

“Fish & Game is funded solely through the sale of licences to fish and hunt,” says Jordan.

“Most of our resources go back into protecting habitat and water quality, which we know directly benefits valued introduced species like trout as well as native freshwater species.

“What we’re looking to get a better handle on is how trout fishing tourism acts as an economic driver for parts of the country.”

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