Latin America Market Overview

10 September 2015

By Rowan Worner, GM Marketing, Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism 

Tourism New Zealand has identified Chile, Argentina and Brazil as the "emerging markets" which show significant potential for New Zealand in the longer term. They are committed to investing early (i.e. at a higher level than the current visitor numbers would justify) within these markets to build demand and to provide leadership and support for New Zealand tourism businesses. Investing ahead of the curve will also accelerate the development of quality visitor arrivals from these markets.

CCT represented the Canterbury and West Coast IMA (International Marketing Alliance) grouping during a recent IMA only trade educational trip to Latin America. This included visiting the markets of Chile, Argentina and Brazil over a week in August.

Airline Update

Currently only one carrier, LAN Chile, flies directly between New Zealand and Santiago. This service has been upgraded to new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Qantas also fly directly to Sydney from Santiago, important given the high level of dual destination travel from the region. The introduction of the Air New Zealand services from Buenos Aires from December 2015 will provide significant additional capacity and competitive alternatives for the underserviced Brazilian and Argentinian markets.


Total Visitor Arrivals (YE June 2015) 5,792 +3%
Holiday Visitor Arrivals (YE June 2015) 2,928 +16%

Country Overview and Market Trends

  • Despite a deceleration of the economy the country will keep on growing in economic terms. Chileans are set to have record growth in their purchases of travel and tourism products abroad.
  • The general visitor from Chile is more conservative than other Latin American markets
  • Online plays a large role in all steps of the planning and booking process. Chile has the highest facebook penetration in South America. 
  • Education is one of the key themes in the relationship between New Zealand and Chile. 

Insights from the Workshops

While Santiago/Chile is currently the gateway from South America to New Zealand with LAN services departing daily this is a relatively small market with limited knowledge of New Zealand. 

CCT met with travel trade agents and managers in Santiago. The key issue for Canterbury and the West Coast is length of stay. For many it is considered a dual destination with Australia, Fiji, Tahiti or South East Asia – and when New Zealand is included there could be as limited length of stay as 3 days. In these instances the visitors are limited to Auckland with maybe a Rotorua day trip.

For those with longer length of stay destinations predominantly included Auckland, drive to Rotorua, fly to Queenstown and then depart back to Auckland. Christchurch, Canterbury and the West Coast was seldom included.

There was some feedback around parts of Canterbury and the West Coast (and New Zealand) that look extremely similar to Chile. This was predominantly around snow activities, glaciers and wine regions. The feeling was that the parts of most interest was Kaikoura – wildlife (while Chile does have whales they are very far south and not year round) and Maori culture being unique to New Zealand, and the Aoraki/Mount Cook Mackenzie region with stargazing.

Chile is situated in a seismic area and so there was some common ground and understanding of earthquake events. There was very limited questions about the Christchurch earthquakes. The scenic areas of New Zealand are definitely viewed as the reason to visit although with the youth market there was some urban interest.


Total Visitor Arrivals (YE June 2015) 4,032 -14%
Holiday Visitor Arrivals (YE June 2015) 2,272 -15%

Country Overview and Market Trends

  • Moderate rates of economic growth should return after the presidential election in October 2015. 
  • Argentina's official exchange rate is overvalued and the country has high inflation. 
  • OTA growth in this market has been significant (60% web/40% travel agent)
  • Consumer prefer to pay for their trips in monthly installments
  • They have they highest internet penetration in Latin America
  • Cultural similarities with New Zealand include love of rugby, the outdoors and adventure.

Insights from the Workshops

The new Air New Zealand service between Buenos Aires and Auckland begins in December. Many of the trade agents and managers who attended the training believed that this new direct access will bring about a substantial change to the market. Within the Latin America breakdown the Argentinian market is at somewhat of a disadvantage because of the additional tax that is added on products and services purchased. It will be interesting to see how this impacts the flight costs.  

The knowledge level from the agents who attended the workshops was higher than in Chile. This was due to the approximately quarter of the agents who had travelled to New Zealand. As a result there were significantly more questions about Christchurch especially as some agents mentioned specifically that they knew the city had been closed and with their limited knowledge they were currently actively avoiding the city.

It was again evident that New Zealand is considered a dual destination and one company director stated that “Australia is the catalyst, and New Zealand the afterthought”. Length of stay was again an issue with the majority including North Island only itineraries. The majority of conversation was around how within a 3-4 day itinerary customers do not get a full New Zealand experience – and the key selling points about why visitors should come to the South Island/Canterbury and the West Coast.

Approximately a third of agents sold very little New Zealand itineraries or were new to selling New Zealand and obviously were interested in the changes the new service would bring.


Total Visitor Arrivals (YE June 2015) 12,480 +12%
Holiday Visitor Arrivals (YE June 2015) 7,152 +10%

Country Overview and Market Trends

  • Inflation is higher than expected. 
  • In the last ten years over 6.6m people have climbed into the A/B class (highest levels of social class).
  • The country continues to prepare for the 2016 Olympic Games.
  • There has been growth in the OTAs out of Brazil but travel agents and tour operators still play a very important role. 
  • Consumers prefer to pay their trips in monthly installments and do not plan in advance (up to 3 months). This is usually done in 10-12 instalments.
  • Consumer follow celebrities' lifestyle and are heavy users of social media.

Insights from the Workshops

Brazil is the largest Latin America market for New Zealand (56% of Latin American arrivals) and two events were held in Brazil to educate the trade in both Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro. The format of the Sao Paolo event had to be changed due to the large number of registrations. This meant that all presentations were done to the group as a whole rather than in smaller training style workshops. The interest level and knowledge was high (the highest of all events).

One key difference with Brazil is that this market has a longer annual leave allowance compared to their Latin America neighbours. This means that length of stay is longer. The Brazilian economy has seen issues in the past 6-12 months, according to the largest retail trade seller CVC this has led to a decline in their traditional outbound markets (USA – specifically Florida – for holidays focused on shopping). Markets outside of this (including New Zealand, Asia and Africa) who are seen as exotic and more premium have seen an increase. Alongside this as could be expected the domestic market has seen an increase.

There was a large variety of knowledge levels from the agents who attended the event in Rio de Janeiro. Again Australia was seen as the hook with a higher awareness of significantly more visitors requesting to go there. For those that were selling New Zealand it was considered an add on and from this approximately half were coming to the region.


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