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Burton Speech: UK/NZ Travel & Tourism Awards

Mark Burton Speech: UK New Zealand Travel and Tourism Awards 2003

Kia Ora and welcome to the 2003 UK New Zealand travel and tourism awards.

Tonight is the first time I have had the opportunity to attend this prestigious event, and I am delighted to be here to celebrate with you.

Tourism is extremely important to New Zealand’s economy—second only to dairy in economic value, generating close to ten percent of our GDP.

Tourism is also directly and indirectly responsible for one in eleven jobs, supports over 15,000 businesses, and is one of our largest earners of foreign exchange.

The United Kingdom has traditionally been a strong market for New Zealand, second only to Australia in terms of visitor numbers.

But beyond the measure of the UK’s importance in terms of pure market share, visitors from the UK are valuable to New Zealand in terms of their fit with our current target market.

Tourism New Zealand has undertaken extensive work in identifying New Zealand’s ‘ideal visitor’—high-yield, high-value travellers who regularly visit international destinations, consume a wide range of tourism products, and who come to New Zealand for authentic experiences with our natural, social, and cultural environments.

We call these visitors “interactive travellers,” and many guests from the UK tend to fit this profile very well. They travel independently, get out into the regions of New Zealand, and sample a wide range of activities and products while on holiday.

As a result, travellers from the United Kingdom are particularly valuable to the New Zealand tourism industry, and the New Zealand experience offers our UK guests the satisfying, “real” experience they are looking for.

And even though the 2002/ 3 season has been marred by some very real challenges world-wide, UK visitor numbers to New Zealand have remained strong, and are actually in a pattern of growth.

Much of this continued success comes down to the outstanding work done by the people in this room. On behalf of the entire New Zealand tourism sector, I would like to thank you all for your continued support.

As Minister of Tourism I am, of course, extremely proud of the success of our industry. But, as I indicated earlier, visitor numbers are only part of the equation.

If we are to build a truly sustainable, yield-driven industry—one that strikes a balance between managing the impacts of our growing tourism sector and maximising its obvious economic benefits—then we must both manage the growth of visitor numbers and focus on attracting the kind of visitors who will respect our country’s unique environments and culture.

At the heart of a sustainable sector lies one key point: quality.

The long-term future of our industry depends on every visitor receiving a world-class experience—meeting or exceeding their expectations in their accommodation, their food, the activities they choose, and the environments they visit.

This emphasis on quality was detailed in the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010—a document which I’m sure most of you are aware of. As a direct response, the Government significantly enhanced funding for the Qualmark brand—our tourism quality assurance system.

Qualmark aims to provide our guests with a reliable, easily recognised trademark of quality, ensuring that a high standard is maintained across the entire sector.

Last year, Qualmark was repositioned as New Zealand tourism’s official quality agency, and branded with a new quality mark that incorporates the silver fern— New Zealand’s internationally recognised symbol. The new brand is now visible in Tourism New Zealand’s programmes, Qualmark’s campaigns and publicity.

In all, over 1000 tourism businesses are now either licensed to use, or in the process of qualifying for, the Qualmark. I would encourage you all to familiarise yourselves with these businesses.

This strong focus on quality and sustainability is paying off for the entire sector.

Tourism has been experiencing a strong growth trend over the past few years, and our most recent forecast, released just last month, indicates a continuation of this positive trend, and that New Zealand can continue to expect strong industry growth.

In the period to 2009, we expect a 5.7 percent increase in international arrivals annually, with international visitor expenditure showing an increase of nearly double that at 9.7 percent.

By 2009, this trend should translate to an increase in arrivals of 47.5 percent, but a growth in expenditure of 91.2 percent.

These forecasts reinforce that the industry is headed in the right direction, with value well ahead of volume.

Quality in New Zealand’s offshore promotion is also absolutely vital.

In order to bring interactive travellers to New Zealand, we need an offshore travel trade that absolutely understands New Zealand's unique product offerings, and is able to communicate this to the public in innovative and targeted ways.

Events like tonight’s awards recognise those in the trade who have gone above and beyond to achieve outstanding success, setting the highest standards in quality.

You have set the benchmark for the rest of the industry, and your work is essential to the continued success of the New Zealand tourism industry

I thank you all again for your support over the past years. I look forward to continuing to work in partnership to develop New Zealand even further as a world-class, year-round, international holiday destination.

Congratulations to all the winners honoured tonight.

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou, katoa.

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