In images that have delighted the world, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford have introduced their newborn daughter to the public and revealed her interesting name.

The couple greeted New Zealand media yesterday. Ardern announced her baby would be called Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford – or Neve Gayford for short.

The Prime Minister said the name Neve “means, in various forms, bright and radiant and snow, which seemed like a good combination for Matariki (Maori new year) and for solstice”.

Winter solstice in Australia and New Zealand fell last Thursday, 21 June, the baby’s birthday.

Aroha in Maori means love and Te Aroha is also the name of a mountain near where Ardern grew up.

Can delight over the birth of a baby, and its global coverage, affect tourism? The answer is yes. Tourism, and the destinations that travellers choose or prefer, are based on feelings. The feelings people have about a country make it more or less likely that they will visit it. It’s what marketing people call brand image.

In short, perceptions are important. That’s why advertising exists.

The disarming photos and videos of Ardern and her partner are highly positive, reinforcing New Zealand’s reputation as a friendly, progressive and youthful country – a far cry from the way politicians in some other countries are perceived.

It is very unusual for a prime minister, president or head of state to have a baby while in office – and from a tourism perspective it should work in New Zealand’s favour. How much is hard to say.

New Zealand can use a bit of a tourism boost, particularly in arrivals from Australia. New Zealand is the number-one destination for Australian travellers and Australia is by far the biggest source country of tourists to New Zealand – but the tourism flow has suffered in recent months.

Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show Australian visitation to New Zealand dipped by 3.3% (based on short-term resident returns in the month of April). What’s more, the decline seems to be accelerating. Visitation to New Zealand by Australians declined by 1% in January, by 2.5% in February and by 2.9% in March  – and then by 3.3% in April. See Outbound travel from Australia doing well


New Zealand is still the favourite destination for Australian travellers and remains about 9% above the second placeholder, Indonesia (predominantly Bali), in the latest stats. But official statistics from New Zealand show visitor arrivals for April 2018 are down by 15.9% from Australia, down by 10.3% from the US, down by a whopping 21.2% from Britain and down by 9% overall.

Clearly, New Zealand’s tourism industry will be hoping the Jacinda-and-Neve effect kicks in soon!

Written by Peter Needham