It is who you know that determines where you go as a tourist: Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFRs)
Abstract: Academics over the years have lamented the underestimation of the VFR influence and the subsequent dismissal of VFR as a tourism market segment. This underestimation assumed that VFR travellers spent very little money and therefore are not important economically. Whilst this is true of a few, including the pure VFR tourists (and we have no idea how many), it is not true of all VFR tourists. When accommodation expenses are excluded, VFR to the Gold Coast, Australia spend more than holiday tourists on eating out and attractions. More importantly, there are other economic measures which make VFR a valuable market segment: their PED (price elasticity of demand) and IED (income elasticity of demand) are inelastic. This may explain why the New Zealand VFR inbound segment has grown by 63% in the last decade (December end year 2011- Tourism Strategy Group) compared to a total overall growth of 41%. Despite the economic recession, VFR still travel, or holiday tourists may become VFR because of the recession. This presentation will highlight the rationale and significance of this research, the case for understanding the nature and depth of influence of friends and family on inbound travel and improving the estimation of the extent of this influence.
Biography: Monique Brocx is a Senior Lecturer in Hospitality and Tourism at AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand. Her extensive research experience includes directing the tourism research programme at New Zealand Tourist and Publicity (now the Tourism Strategy Group of the Economic Development Group within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) during the 80’s. Monique was responsible for setting up what is now the International Visitor Survey and the Tourism Satellite Account, measuring the economic impact of tourism in New Zealand. Before moving into lecturing at AIT in 1991, Monique headed an Asia-wide market research programme jointly with Tourism Australia. Her research interests have developed from her knowledge of the ‘macro’ tourism data collected by the New Zealand Tourism Strategy Group and its translation into industry useful data. Her Masters degree from Victoria University developed a typology of the Auckland host community, where she estimated half the tourist nights to Auckland in 2003 were spent with friends and family. This finding, along with a reconciliation done between the supply and demand data on accommodation, highlighted around 70% of accommodation usage as non-commercial. This research will develop an improved measure of the influence of friends and relatives on inbound travel to New Zealand.