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MIT is positioned to drive tourism growth Manukau

MIT is well positioned to drive tourism growth in Manukau, says new MIT head of Tourism and Travel

As the largest Polynesian city in the world, Manukau boasts huge potential as a tourism destination for international visitors and Manukau Institute of Technology is well placed to tap into this market.

“Many visitors to New Zealand rush straight to Auckland City and end up paying expensive hotel rates,” says MIT’s new head of Tourism and Travel Stephan Hauke.

“But if they stay within 20 minutes distance of the airport they still get good accommodation with the added experience of the rich cultural diversity that makes Manukau what it is today. Visitors can experience the Pacific flavour first hand at cultural attractions such as the vibrant Otara markets, for example.”

And, according to a Statistics New Zealand Accommodation Survey, tourists are realising this. From June to August 2005, the region reflected a 12.6% increase (compared to Auckland City with a 1% decrease), and from September to November 2005, Manukau boasted at 9% increase (compared to Auckland City, which saw a 3.6% decrease).

As tourist figures rise, says Stephan, it is imperative that well-qualified people are available to manage this upward trend. Thanks to the top-level tourism training at MIT, he says visitors to New Zealand will be given excellent service and memorable travel experiences by graduates actively working within the industry.

“Our graduates have been extremely well trained. The offices at the institute look and function like a hotel – our facilities are state-of-the-art and set up to train students in the ‘real thing’.

“Many of our lecturers also actively work in the industry and some even run their own travel agencies, so students are receiving the best combination of textbook and real life learning.”

Stephan would like to see Manukau promoted as an alternative standalone tourism destination, which would see even more of the 70% visitors who arrive and depart through Auckland International Airport spend at least one night in the city.

Manukau City is also ideally located to service growing trends in the travel industry, such as the conference market, incentive tours, gourmet travellers and adventure tourism.

“Although we are well known for offering adventure tourism in places like Queenstown, many visitors are also looking for ‘soft’ adventure. They may be doing a coach tour but they love to get out and experience the country for themselves – perhaps stay a night on a farm, do a half-day rainforest walk, or catch a ferry to a gulf island,” says Stephan.

He also comments that facilities like Manukau’s TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre can play an vital role in promoting the area as a conference destination both domestically and to the Australian market, as the location is well situated for pre and post conference tours.

“Most conference visitors to Auckland have been here before, so they don’t want to ‘do’ the city all over again, and they are ready for something different. We are so close to all sorts of exciting possibilities.”

Stephan adds that while the general efficiency of the national tourism industry has improved markedly, there is still work to be done around professional training and best practice.

“Because New Zealand is so far away most visitors have travelled extensively to get here and they have high expectations of service. They love the beauty here, but we need to ensure we have the people with the right attitude, along with the skills and knowledge to make their stay a memorable one.”

With two masters degrees and an MBA up his sleeve, along with 20 years’ experience in the tourism industry in both Europe and New Zealand, Stephan definitely knows what he’s talking about.

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