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Australians Visiting Te Puia in Record Numbers

May 2, 2005

Australians Visiting Te Puia in Record Numbers

Australians boycotting Rotorua? Not correct says tourism leader and Te Puia chief executive Andrew Te Whaiti.

Responding to comments made by Rotorua District Councillor Russell Judd, Te Whaiti says Te Puia had record numbers of Australians coming through their gates. But he adds that it's healthy to always test the thinking of the tourism industry to ensure opportunities are not being missing.

"As part of our recent rebranding process we did quite extensive offshore market research and some of what Councillor Judd is saying is shown to be partially right," he says.

However, he says Councillor Judd's use of the word 'boycotting' was probably over the top.

"We found some Australians feel they have enough contact with New Zealand or Maori living in Australia that they think they know the culture."

Te Whaiti says some Australians come looking for the cultural experience, others come wanting to see the geothermal and are surprised by the depth of the culture when they get here.

"Part of the reason we went to an umbrella brand of Te Puia with three sub-brands - the geothermal valley, Maori cultural experiences and the third being the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute - was to clearly define that we have three separate attractions; you can see them individually or see them all."

He says with the sub-brand strategy Te Puia now has the flexibility to focus its marketing depending on what each market and each demographic wants.

Just back from launching the Te Puia brand in Australia, the United States, the UK, Europe and Japan, Te Whaiti is right up with the play as far as how different nationalities regard New Zealand and Rotorua as a destination.

Te Whaiti says tourism is an exciting industry that's growing quickly in New Zealand and will change over time.

He says some Australians now jump across the Tasman for a few days to do something specific just as we go over there to see the Formula One or a rugby test or go shopping.

"If they come specifically for mountain biking then we want them to know before they go home they should come in to Te Puia and see the geothermal activity if they want, try Mai Ora and or see the carvers at work."

He says Rotorua is blessed to have authentic Maori cultural experiences, and unique and accessible geothermal activity and natural beauty and great terrain for outdoor pursuits.

"In international tourism terms, Rotorua is quite something and that's the feedback we get offshore."


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