New Zealand is growing in popularity with British tourists, some drawn in by the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings movies. Danielle Genty-Nott, regional manager UK & Europe at Tourism New Zealand talks Travel Daily through the numbers and initiatives.
How is tourism to New Zealand looking this year?
September/October and January/February are traditional booking periods for NZ so we are continuously focused on them with trade partnership and marketing campaigns, trade training and incentives to help agents gain a better understanding of how to sell NZ.
Feedback from the trade is mixed with some down while others are well up (based on this January/February booking period). We constantly analyse where and how the trade are selling in each segment to gain a stronger insight in to trends and, of course, total stay days. On a positive note, tour operators are optimistic and committed to selling New Zealand and we are encouraged by their enthusiasm moving forward.
One of our increased focuses is the gap year and working holiday visa segment as we know NZ is a favoured destination from the UK, and this has been strengthened on the back of the increased university fees.
Would TNZ ever look to tie-up with Tourism Australia?
We do currently work with Tourism Australia and their states on some trade activity such as joint trade training and events like WTM where it is appropriate to do so and benefits all involved. The feedback from trade is very positive in this sense as they are generally time poor and we are not the only NTO, product or service looking to attract their time, and given their clients generally to both destinations, we find this approach has positive outcomes.
Has tourism to New Zealand been hit by things such as APD? How?
Numbers are down to New Zealand from the UK but for similar reasons other long-haul destinations have faced. People generally are looking to hold onto jobs and as such are more reluctant to travel long haul at this time whilst the economy is not as healthy. Add this to the many events happening on their doorstep in the UK this summer, the many short haul “fire sale” packages on offer currently and it does add to the challenge. That said, the UK summer is not a traditional travel period to NZ so we are focused on the later part of this year for pick up.
What plans do you have in place with agents this year?
We have four key marketing campaigns running throughout the year partnering with trade and airlines again where appropriate, that then leads to trade engagement and training. We always look to train agents ahead of each campaign that is driven to our site – www.newzealand.com.
You will also find TNZ at Taste of PATA in London and Glasgow this September and it has been great to work with PATA, NTOs and travel agents at these events.
Air New Zealand has also recently confirmed its involvement with ‘The Hobbit’ as ‘Airline to Middle Earth’ and with the world wide release on 14 December we will look to engage in joint activity around the movie with a focus on the stunning landscapes New Zealand has to offer and are reflected in the movie.
What impact did the Lord of the Rings trilogy previously have on tourism in NZ?
Lord of the Rings was released around 10 years ago now and we know that in 2004 an average 47,000 tourists travelled to New Zealand to visit film locations per year. Since then however, there has been increased interest in film tourism to New Zealand with the likes of Narnia, The Last Samurai, The World’s Fastest Indian and more, so we are confident of a similar positive spin off from The Hobbit for tourism throughout New Zealand.