Tourism probably conjures a pretty specific set of images in your mind – particularly in New Zealand. Freedom camping, bungee jumps, glaciers and bush walks: these are the things that make us a global destination. When we think tourism businesses it also tends to have a pretty narrow definition with tour operators, hoteliers and ski instructors topping the list.

Lightning Lab Tourism is challenging this standard definition of what tourism can be. We are looking for people who want to change the game and build a tourism industry that is diverse, unique and sustainable. With the start of the 2020 programme around the corner, it’s the perfect time to unpack just what we mean when we talk about a tourism startup.



Ultimately, tourism is all about helping people to experience the world. The food they eat. The street signs they read. The umbrella they buy because they couldn’t fit one in their carry on. Tourism involves every element of a visitor’s journey; from the moment they leave their home to the moment they arrive back again. Thinking about the industry in this way opens up a world of opportunities. You don’t have to buy a hotel to get into tourism, you just need an idea that helps people experience your neck of the woods.



Innovation often happens at the intersection of two distinct ideas. There are many great examples of tourism ventures that have ridden to the top on the coattails of another industry. Craft beer is a great local example, with companies like Garage Project and festivals like Beervana drawing in an international crowd seeking some delicious, unique beer. 

It might have sounded strange to be going on a “beer tour” for a holiday in the past but it is now a staple of Wellington’s tourism offering. There are massive untapped pockets of value that already exist across our innovative little nation. We just haven’t worked out where they are yet. If you’re sitting on a great idea that people might entice people to visit New Zealand then maybe it’s time to start thinking of yourself as a tourism venture?



While tourism is all about humans, there are big opportunities to improve the way these interactions. Whether AI, blockchain or even a simple java based web app, technology has the potential to change the shape of the tourism industry. Tourism needs to keep up with the modern age and you don’t necessarily need to be visible to have a real impact.

Perhaps you could apply your skillset  to tourism in the same way that companies like Litmaps and Preno are shaking up the approach to research and hotel management. What could you do behind the scenes to make NZ tourism high-tech and high value?


Applications for Lightning Lab Tourism are open now and close on 14 Feb 2020.

If you think you’ve got a great idea that could change the game for tourism in New Zealand then we want to hear from you! For more information and to apply head to www.lightninglab.co.nz/tourism and sign up to our newsletter to stay up to date with all the latest from Lightning Lab. 


Comments are closed