Speech Notes: Mark Burton VIN Conference Opening
VIN Conference Opening
Welcome to the 2002 VIN conference. I’m delighted to welcome you all to an exciting new stage in visitor information provision in New Zealand.
Information is vital to the continuing success of the New Zealand tourism industry, and it’s fair to say that the Visitor Information Network is now at a pivotal stage in its development.
The New Zealand National Tourism Strategy 2010 clearly emphasises the importance of efficient information provision.
One of the primary goals of the strategy is to build the opportunities for, and to market New Zealand as a year-round tourist destination, recognised by its regional distinctions, high-yield, high-quality boutique products, services and high-profile events.
Easy access to pertinent information is a crucial step towards maximising the benefits of tourism. By highlighting the unique opportunities to be enjoyed in the regions, visitors will naturally stay longer, take fuller advantage of the activities on offer and, of course, spend more money.
The Visitor Information Network was highlighted in the Tourism Strategy 2010 as an integral part of delivering this kind of high-quality visitor experience. It is the result of a partnership made up of central government, local government and the private sector.
This Government is extremely committed to the Network as the official information provider, committed enough to allocate $632,000 of additional funding to ensure its continuing development.
These funds make provision for VIN’s marketing programme, development of their website and internet strategy, an investigation into the feasibility of a nationwide Visitor Information Centre network database and consumer research projects over 2 years.
In addition, these funds support the new i-SITE re-branding initiative, which I launched just a couple of weeks ago in Taupo.
The re-branding is now being rolled out around New Zealand. Indeed, I was pleased to be able to join Mayor Suhki Turner, local people and most of you for the launch of the Dunedin i-SITE earlier this evening.
I also got the chance to show off the new branding to my Australian counterparts, who were in Auckland last Wednesday for our annual Tourism Ministers Council meeting.
The i-SITE brand was prominently displayed in the Viaduct Harbour, and it gave me no end of pleasure to be able to point the Ministers to the i SITE visitor centre to answer their questions about post meeting activities.
As you know, i-SITE represents the first new branding exercise since 1991, when the VIN network was first launched. But providing quality information for tourists is a proud tradition in New Zealand. The first Government Tourist Bureaux were opened across New Zealand in 1911.
They provided a full service, including travel bookings, itinerary planning and general information to tourists and travel agents in New Zealand and offshore.
12 years ago, the Visitor Information Network was created. Its goal was to ensure that accurate, quality information would be easily available to all visitors to New Zealand.
i-SITE is the logical next step: a modern, effective re-branding process that I believe will become recognised as yet another hallmark of the world-class New Zealand experience.
By combining two strong, simple images, i-SITE has the potential to cut through the myriad of tourism offerings and stick in the traveller’s psyche.
The first image is the globally recognised ‘i’, synonymous for information. The second is the silver fern used both in New Zealand’s offshore marketing and in Qualmark’s new branding, launched at TRENZ last May.
This is the same fernmark that is displayed to the world on all Tourism New Zealand material and features so strongly in their web site. The fernmark symbolises New Zealand’s dedication to providing our visitors with an experience that is unparalleled anywhere else in the world.
By pairing these two images, i-SITE’s branding is instantly recognisable as one of a high-quality, and it is uniquely “New Zealand.”
As the owners or representatives of the 90 Visitor Information Centres throughout the country, you all play a vital role in providing our visitors with the most comprehensive and accurate knowledge available.
As Minister of Tourism, my continuing philosophy is to get alongside business and local communities to build a sustainable future for tourism in New Zealand.
Meeting with you here today gives me great confidence in VIN’s future. You are a vital part of the co-ordinated, efficient network that is VIN.
As the representatives of the 90 Visitor Information Centres throughout the country, you all play a vital role in providing our visitors with the most comprehensive and accurate information available, and equally, ensuring that our visitors experience the highest quality of service and hospitality in getting that information.
For international and domestic visitors alike, you are, quite literally, the front door to the tourism industry’s products and experiences, all around the regions of New Zealand.
Your efforts, combined with those of industry operators, Tourism New Zealand and Qualmark will ensure that travelling around New Zealand is a memorable, one-of-a-kind, quality experience that visitors will want to repeat.
I wish you well for the discussions and deliberations at your conference, and a good time at any extracurricular and post-conference activities.
Welcome again to VIN 2002.