Innovation in New Zealand tourism through improved distribution channels

This project is developing a more systematic understanding of the diverse distribution channels for New Zealand tourism and examining ways of increasing their effectiveness with regard to particular markets, regions and forms of tourism. Increased understanding will lead to enhanced economic competitiveness in the New Zealand tourism industry's performance. It will achieve this through the identification, creation and use of distribution channels which enable efficient and effective delivery of higher value products and services and which retain more of that value within New Zealand firms.

The project, which began on 1 July 2002, has been funded for five years by the Public Good Science Fund. The project has been carried out with advice and assistance from Tourism New Zealand, the New Zealand Tourism Industry Association, Positively Wellington Tourism, Tourism Rotorua and Venture Southland. A positive response from the tourism industry has also been received.

A comparative multi-stage approach has been adopted in order to:

  • Establish a detailed analytical framework for systematically identifying different types of distribution systems and classifying all members in the channel.
  • Identify the factors that influence the behaviour and motivations of the channel members, which determine the nature and strength of the relationships between them and which lead to cooperation or conflict in the channel.
  • Assess the extent to which different channel structures, practices and relationships impact on tourism growth and influence yield for different channel members and evaluate the cost effectiveness of different forms of distribution systems.
  • Recommend best channel management practices for different markets, regions and forms of tourism.

In the first three years of the project the emphasis has been on establishing the structure and behaviour of distribution channels with regard to selected regions, markets and forms of tourism. In particular, studies have been carried out on:

  1. Wellington, Rotorua and Southland;
  2. A range of established and emerging markets: Australia, the United Kingdom, the USA, Japan and India.
  3. Selected forms of tourism: adventure travel, conferences and events, corporate travel and transport. Accommodation and attractions have been incorporated in the regional case studies.

Data collection has primarily involved in-depth interviews with suppliers and intermediaries.

Surveys have also been undertaken of visitors to Wellington and Rotorua and of conference delegates and event goers in the capital.

In the final two years of the project, the emphasis is on assessing the cost effectiveness of different channel structures and on the development of best practice guidelines for channel management.

For the cost effectiveness assessment research (October 2005 – June 2006), we were interested in working closely with a range of tourism businesses.

Project team

The project team consisted of:

Professor Doug Pearce (Project Leader), Dr Bob Garnham, Dr Mondher Sahli, Dr Karen Smith, Dr Christian Schott and Dr Adam Weaver.


Pearce, D. G., & Tan, R. (2006). The distribution mix for tourism attractions in Rotorua, New Zealand. Journal of Travel Research, 44(3), 250-258.

Stuart, P., Pearce, D. G., & Weaver, A. (2005). Tourism distribution channels in peripheral regions: the case of Southland, New Zealand. Tourism Geographies, 7(3), 235-256.

Pearce, D. G. & Schott, C. (2005). Tourism distribution channels: the visitors' perspective. Journal of Travel Research, 44(1), 50-63.

Sharda, S., & Pearce, D. G. (2005, July 7-10, 2005). Distribution in emerging tourism markets: the case of Indian travel to New Zealand. Paper presented at the 11th Annual Conference of the Asia Pacific Tourism Association: 'New tourism for Asia-Pacific', Goyang.

Smith, K. A. (2005). A Comparative Approach to the Analysis of Event Audiences. In Allen, J. (ed) The Impact of Events: Proceedings of International Event Research Conference. Sydney, Australian Centre for Event Management. 178-201.

Garnham, R. (2005). Corporate Travel Agents: Channels of Distribution - an evaluation. Paper presented at the CAUTHE Conference, Alice Springs.

Pearce, D. G. Tan, R. & Schott, C. (2004). Tourism Distribution Channels in Wellington, New Zealand. International Journal of Tourism Research, 6(6), 397-410.

Pearce, D. G., & Tan, R. (2004). Distribution channels for heritage and cultural tourism in New Zealand. Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research, 9(3), 225-237.

Tan, R. & Pearce, D. G. (2004). Providers' and intermediaries' use of the Internet in tourism distribution. In K. A. Smith & C. Schott (Eds.), New Zealand Tourism and Hospitality Research Conference 2004 (pp. 424-432). Wellington, New Zealand: Victoria University of Wellington.

Smith, K. (2004). 'There is only one opportunity to get it right' - challenges of survey event visitors. In K. A. Smith & C. Schott (Eds.), New Zealand Tourism and Hospitality Research Conference 2004 (pp. 386-397). Wellington, New Zealand: Victoria University of Wellington.

Pearce D.G. (2003) ‘Tourism Distribution Channels: A Systematic Integrated Approach.’ Proceedings of the 6th International Forum on the Sciences, Techniques and Art Applied to Marketing, Ortega, E. González, L. Pérez del Campo, E. (Eds). 27-28 November 2003. Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, pp.345-363.

Pearce, D. G., Tan R. and Schott, C. (2003) ‘Distribution channels for urban tourism: issues and examples from Wellington, New Zealand’, Proceedings of the Travel and Tourism Research Association Conference, ‘Urban Tourism-mapping the future’, Glasgow 24-27 September 2003 (CD-Rom).

Pearce, D. G., Tan, R. and Schott, C. (2003) How do visitors find out about your product. Paper presented at the Wellington Tourism Forum, 20 August 2003.

Pearce, D.G. and Tan, R. (2002) ‘Tourism destination channels: a destination perspective’, in W. G. Croy (ed) New Zealand Tourism and Hospitality Conference Proceedings, Waiariki Insitute of Technology, Rotorua, pp.242-250.

The following theses are available in the Victoria University of Wellington Library:

Sharda, S. (2005). The Structure and Behaviour of Distribution Channels Linking Destination New Zealand to an Emerging Market: a Case of the Indian Outbound Travel Industry. Master of Tourism Management, School of Management, Victoria University of Wellington.

Taniguchi, M. (2005). The Structure and Function of the Tourism Distribution Channels between Japan and New Zealand. Master of Tourism Management, School of Management, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, NZ.

Stuart, P. (2004). Distribution Channels for a Peripheral Area: A Case Study of Southland, New Zealand. Master of Tourism Management Thesis, Victoria University of Wellington.