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Te Papa - Museum that Changed Wellington Tourism

Media Release
Monday 11 February 2008
For Immediate Release

Te Papa - The Museum that Changed Wellington Tourism

It’s hard to believe - Te Papa turns 10 this week! In just a decade, our national museum has helped to dramatically change the face of Wellington tourism.

“The development of Te Papa had an immense impact on Wellington tourism,” says Tim Cossar, CEO of Positively Wellington Tourism. “Prior to its arrival, Wellington was not high on the list of holiday destinations. It was a city where people stopped over, on their way between the North and South Islands. Te Papa was fundamental in changing all that.”

Wellington’s guest nights have nearly doubled in the past decade. They stood at 999,107 at year end November 1997, and clocked in at 1,866,467 at year end November 2007 (Statistics NZ: Commercial Accommodation Monitor). Visitor expenditure has also nearly doubled. Tourism spend in Wellington stood at $679 million in 1999, and now stands at $1.2 billion (Ministry of Tourism: Tourism Forecasts).

Te Papa opened its doors on 14 February 1998. Over 13.8 million visitors have visited since then (an average of 1.3 million visitors per year), making it the most visited museum in Australasia.

“Te Papa gave Wellington a museum of national significance, and has drawn large numbers of people since it first opened. It cemented Wellington’s position as the centre for New Zealand nationhood and heritage experiences. It also gave Wellington a year-round attraction, and one that’s not weather contingent!”

Tim says Te Papa gave Wellington in-roads into international visitor markets. “Ten years ago, Wellington barely featured on international visitors’ New Zealand itineraries. Today, Wellington is being called a ‘City on the Rise’ by Lonely Planet. Te Papa has had a major role to play in this transformation.”

Te Papa’s opening coincided with several other developments that strengthened Wellington’s appeal as a visitor destination. Around the same time, Wellington International Airport Ltd undertook a major redevelopment including an upgrade of its passenger terminal. In early 2000, the Westpac Stadium also opened on Wellington’s waterfront, giving the city a world-class venue for sporting and international music events.

The mid 1990s also saw Wellington ramp up its marketing programmes. Wellington was beginning to develop a vibrant downtown area, and strong café culture. Several of the city’s top theatres also underwent refurbishment.

“Wellington saw several massive changes and developments happen over a short period of time, the combined total of which took the city to a new level as a visitor destination,” says Tim.

Te Papa also played a major role in another phenomenon that left a huge mark on Wellington tourism – The Lord of the Rings movies. Te Papa hosted The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy - The Exhibition in late 2002/early 2003, and brought it back due to popular demand in 2006.

“Looking back, the day Wellington gained Te Papa was a real highlight in our tourism history. Positively Wellington Tourism enjoys working in partnership with the Te Papa team, and looks forward to another great 10 years ahead.”


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