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Burton Speech: Hawke’s Bay Wine Country Guide

Mark Burton Speech: Launch of Complete Guide to Hawke’s Bay Wine Country

Good evening. I am delighted to be here with you tonight in the beautiful Hawke’s Bay, to launch the Complete Guide to Hawke’s Bay Wine Country.

We launch this guide at a time when tourism in New Zealand is enjoying unprecedented publicity around the world.

Not only known as a scenic or adventure destination, New Zealand is also building a solid reputation as a sophisticated, diverse, year-round travel choice—an image reinforced by the Complete Guide.

The Complete Guide is an initiative that has been driven almost entirely by industry. Produced by the Hawke’s Bay Wine Country Tourism Association, using both private and public sector funding, this official guide to the region features three major sections: wine, art, and food.

In addition, it details attractions, heritage, gardens, and accommodation. The Guide has been designed for the tourism and corporate markets, to appeal to the discerning visitor with an interest in food, wine and lifestyle. I’m told that, in the future, the Guide may be supplemented by a family of brochures outlining wine, art and food trails.

This volume, which outlines in detail the many attractions the Hawke’s Bay has to offer, is an ideal illustration of why New Zealand’s international reputation as a highly desirable travel destination is growing by the day—we are thinking outside the square.

We pride ourselves on being innovators in this country, and I can’t think of a better example than New Zealand’s wine industry—the second most exciting industry in the country (not that I’m biased…).

Like tourism, if you mentioned New Zealand wine a decade ago, the international audience would have likely said “Wine from where?” Things have changed indeed.

Innovation is a cornerstone of the New Zealand wine industry. With Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand winemakers turned established tradition on its head - now we are acknowledged as the best in the world with this variety. Now New Zealand’s winemakers have set their sights on another variety - Pinot Noir – and, from the reputational progress already made, I think we can expect similar results. Innovation doesn’t stop at different grape varieties. In the past two years, New Zealand’s winemakers have been at the forefront of a global revolution in packaging—challenging established tradition and thinking as we lead the world in the changeover to scewtop closures.

As a relatively new player in the world's wine industry, challenging the tried and true is not a step for the faint-hearted.

The winemakers I know are definitely not in this category - to a one they are passionate, incredibly hard working, and doggedly determined.

Those characteristics are the ones that have taken New Zealand wine exports from just $18.4 million in 1990 to over $280 million today. And those same characteristics are the ones that will see wine exports triple over the next four or so years.

So, too, has the tourism industry virtually exploded onto the international scene. Aided by the unprecedented media coverage we have received over the past few years, New Zealand is now seen as a premiere destination by key markets such as the UK, US, and Japan, to name but a few.

In order to maximise the opportunities our high profile brings to the whole sector, Tourism New Zealand has invested considerable efforts to identify New Zealand’s “ideal visitor”—the kind of traveller that we can best satisfy, and who will in return sustain our culture, engage with our environments, and provide high-yield economic benefits.

We call this guest the “Interactive Traveller.”

Drawn to our landscape and natural beauty, interactive travellers also place significant value on interacting with our people, our culture, and our environment. These high-yield, high-value travellers regularly visit international destinations and consume a wide range of tourism products. But such visitors are discerning, with an ever-increasing emphasis on such elements as fine food, fine wine, and high quality accommodation. Their demands are increasingly sophisticated, and it is crucial that businesses across the sector provide them.

What better way to satisfy these high-value, high-yield travellers than offering them a complete guide to these very products—a perfect synergy between the wine and tourism sectors—all of which are available to them right here in one of New Zealand’s premier food, wine and lifestyle destinations.

These attributes informed my choice of Hawke’s Bay as one of five regions to participate in a cultural tourism development programme—a partnership between the government and the sector, aimed at enhancing the quality of cultural tourism product available, and increasing visitor demand for that product. Like the four other regions that have been selected, Hawke’s Bay is already well established as a cultural destination in the minds of New Zealanders. Through this programme, the government will provide support to Hawke’s Bay that will help build this same reputation in the minds of our international visitors.

Tourism New Zealand will also be co-ordinating a promotional programme to increase the awareness of cultural tourism products within the selected regions.

Clearly, the Hawke’s Bay is well placed to maximise the benefits tourism has to offer. I understand that last year, visitor nights in the Hawke’s Bay Region reached 3.5 million. Recent research by the Tourism Research Council shows that the Hawke’s Bay can expect a 20 percent increase in visitor nights to 2009.

You can also look forward to growth of almost 50 percent in international visitor nights in that same period.

But, more importantly, international travellers are expected to drive the majority of growth in visitor expenditure, increasing their spend by 85% over the forecast period.

Ongoing partnership with both central and local government will undoubtedly be a key part of translating ideas into effective strategies to promote your region. In addition, RTOs play a key leadership role in promoting their region as a visitor destination, as well as acting as a bridge between tourism operators, national tourism bodies, and government.

The work of Hamish Lowry and his team at Hawke’s Bay Tourism is essential in implementing effective promotion campaigns and working with other tourism industry stakeholders to promote the area. You have an advantage over many other regions in that there are some extremely strong partnerships already established in Hawke’s Bay.

I would like to acknowledge the initiative that the Hawke’s Bay Wine Country Tourism Association has shown in developing the guide that we’re here to launch this evening.

I’m impressed with the fact that it was largely industry driven and I‘d like to thank Jeanette Kelly and Jeff Worsnop for their individual efforts.

I am delighted that the RTO, local government and industry are working together so closely in Hawke’s Bay and trust that the partnerships that have been formed now will continue to go from strength to strength.

I wish you every success for the launch of the Complete Guide to Hawke’s Bay Wine Country.

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