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Travellers To NZ Demand Authentic Experiences

September 3, 2004

Interactive Travellers To New Zealand Demand Authentic Experiences

New Zealand tourism operators need to be reacting more decisively to the needs of the growing 'Interactive Traveller' category of international tourist says tourism leader Andrew Te Whaiti.

Interactive travellers demand authentic experiences and can readily detect anything that is in some way contrived, he says.

Te Whaiti who is chief executive of the New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute in Rotorua, was speaking in Kuala Lumpur where he is promoting the New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute at Kiwilink Asia - a major tourism trade show in Kuala Lumpur.

He says cultural tourism is one of the main drivers for international visitors to New Zealand which has reached record numbers.

"Often visitors sit on a plane for 24 hours to get here, so they want an authentic experience when they come here and they're quick to dismiss anything that doesn't cut it," he says.

Interactive travellers make up the bulk of overseas visitors, and they like to participate in cultural activities including visits to geothermal areas, as well as experiencing and learning about Maori culture. Te Whaiti says this puts the Institute in a unique position.

"We're one of the most visited tourist attractions in New Zealand, and have a significant role to play in the tourism experience," he says.

"Our geothermal valley is one of the wonders of New Zealand, and we're exploring more ways of educating international and domestic tourists through wonderful stories of our land, people and culture."

Tourism New Zealand chief executive George Hickton says the move away from the traditional display of Maori culture and performance means attractions like the New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute play a strong role in attracting international visitors.

"As Tourism New Zealand focuses more on the development of Maori cultural tourism, the Institute plays a very important role in the more contemporary cultural offerings. Interactive travellers rate authentic cultural experiences highly and don't want traditional displays any more."

Governed by an Act of Parliament, the New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute re-invests significantly in the preservation and protection of Maori arts, crafts and culture. Andrew Te Whaiti says he is committed to ensuring the Institute is a world class cultural attraction.

"We have a statutory responsibility to keep Maori arts, crafts and culture alive, so we're doing everything we can to ensure the Institute remains an iconic attraction in New Zealand and contributes to the growing number of visitors by creating a world class cultural attraction."

"We've been operating as a stand-alone leading cultural destination for more than 40 years, and we're continually measuring our focus in the business of tourism without compromising the authenticity of the visit," he says.

ENDS

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