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Hawaiian Hotel Giant Moves Into New Zealand

Wednesday June 12, 2002

Hawaii's Outrigger Hotels & Resorts' bullish foray into the Australian tourism industry is set to be repeated in New Zealand, announcing today it had struck a long-term agreement with an Auckland-based company, to support the introduction of the Outrigger brand into both North and South Islands.

Hotel & Tourism Resources, headed by local tourism industry veterans, Laughton Wilkinson and Michael Dobson, will be responsible for supporting Outrigger's expansion throughout New Zealand, including key tourism centres such as Queenstown, Rotorua, Christchurch and Auckland. Wilkinson and Dobson will also assist with staff recruiting, and provide regional oversight for overall operations and sales/marketing functions in the area.

Commenting on the agreement, Mr Wilkinson said "This is an exciting development for New Zealand tourism. The commitment by such a highly regarded and widely recognised group, such as Outrigger to New Zealand, brings a new demension to our visitor industry.

"Access to Outrigger's huge international customer base will lift New Zealand's profile in the global markets which are so important to us," he added.

Currently visiting New Zealand, Outrigger's Vice President for Business Development, Mr Bill Henderson, said Outrigger has had New Zealand in its sights for over eight years, and a significant presence in New Zealand is considered integral to the group's overall South Pacific growth strategy.

more Outrigger expects to announce its first New Zealand property shortly, and according to Mr Henderson, Outrigger's long-term objective is to have four to six hotels and resorts operating within the next three years.

Outrigger expects its New Zealand operations to mirror the success it has experienced in Australia, given the similar appeal both markets have among domestic and inbound travel markets.

Through a combination of investment and management agreements, Outrigger has secured management rights for eight resorts throughout Queensland's leading coastal tourist centres and plans to be operating up to twenty hotels in the country by the end of 2005.

"Hotel & Tourism Resources will be our 'eyes and ears' on the ground, assisting in identifying suitable properties and joint venture partners," Mr Henderson said.

"We will also rely on Mr Wilkinson's and Mr Dobson's many years of experience in the regional hospitality business for assistance in local sales and marketing activities to complement Outrigger's global marketing and sales network," Mr Henderson added.

"Like Australia, New Zealand offers a potentially strong growth opportunity, and while Outrigger has reached critical mass in its Hawaiian homeland, with 32 hotels and resorts comprising over 9,000 rooms spread over the four main islands, the South Pacific is largely untapped, offering Outrigger continued expansion opportunities.

"New Zealand is considered by many travellers as a clean, safe destination, with many spectacular and unique activities and attractions, and we view the region as offering strong growth potential over the long term," Mr Henderson said.

While Outrigger Hotels & Resorts' brand is traditionally associated with sun, surf and sand, Outrigger's move into New Zealand extends its product mix beyond the beach and into popular winter destinations, which appeal to many of the same customers.

The company's strong association and brand awareness among its core North American, Asian and Australian client base augers well for New Zealand as a premier skiing and eco-destination - both popular within these same markets.

"We are committed to complementing New Zealand's growing international profile - assisted by recent successes such as "Lord of the Rings" - and are extremely excited and confident we can support and build on the increased awareness of this beautiful part of the world," Mr Henderson concluded.

Outrigger Hotels & Resorts and OHANA Hotels & Resorts currently owns and/or operates, or has under development, 46 hotels and resorts throughout the Pacific region, including more than 12,000 rooms, and representing combined value in excess US$ 1.4 billion.

ENDS

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