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Accommodation Groups To Merge

Best Western New Zealand

For immediate Release: 6 November 2003

Accommodation Groups To Merge

Two of New Zealand's leading hotel and motel chains are to unite in order to optimise benefits from a buoyant tourism market.

The Pacifica Hotels, Motels & Resorts group this week signed an agreement to merge with Best Western New Zealand. Completion of the merger is scheduled for the middle of 2004.

The combined chains have more than 140 hotels and motels located throughout New Zealand making them one of the largest chains in New Zealand. Both groups are incorporated societies with memberships made up of individual motel and hotel owner-operators. Under the agreement, each individual Pacifica member has until late December to decide whether or not to become part of the expanded Best Western group.

"Over the next several weeks, we will be consulting in depth with Pacifica's property owners around the country. It's our belief that they will wish to take advantage of this merger, as it will bring them both enhanced marketing exposure and a consequent increase in business," says Pacifica's Chairman, Lindsay McKinney.

"This is an exciting opportunity, not least because the two groups are a natural fit. Best Western New Zealand derives a great percentage of its business from the domestic market but is also part of the world's largest international accommodation chain and enjoys the benefits of global branding. Conversely, Pacifica's properties are all in New Zealand but the group draws most of its business from strong links with overseas tourism operators," he says.

Lesley Beattie, President of Best Western New Zealand, cites forecasts from Tourism New Zealand that the industry will continue to experience significant growth for at least the next five years. However, she says, for much of each year, the demand for accommodation regularly exceeds supply in many parts of the country and, above all, in key tourist destinations such as Queenstown or Wanaka. "By merging our operations, we will be able to offer travellers a greater choice of accommodation, particularly via our expanded online reservation system. This should certainly help reduce the amount of potential new business lost both to ourselves and to New Zealand through lack of appropriate available accommodation," she says.

Lesley Beattie adds that the additional capacity and broad range of properties provided by the merger should also help Best Western make inroads into the New Zealand corporate market. Up till now, neither Best Western nor Pacifica have drawn a large part of their business from the corporate sector, albeit that Best Western has identified the sector as a key area for future growth.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, the two groups' boards will remain as separate entities until July 2004 when they will be merged into one. In the meantime, a steering committee will guide Best Western and Pacifica through the merger process.

Best Western New Zealand's CEO, James Shearer took up his position in September this year, following five years as General Manager of Pacifica Hotels, Motels & Resorts. He has also served on Pacifica's board as Deputy Chairman.

"I'm familiar with the cultures of both groups and believe they will merge very effectively and happily to the overall benefit of New Zealand's tourist industry," he says.

ENDS

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