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TRENZ media briefing

25 May 2004 Speech
TRENZ media briefing

Good morning, and welcome to Tourism Rendezvous New Zealand 2004. I know many of you have travelled a long way, and it’s a pleasure to have you with us at this exciting event once again.

I offer a special welcome to those of you who are visiting New Zealand for the very first time, and encourage you to return again.

I hope you have enjoyed your time here so far, and have had the chance to sample some of the many opportunities New Zealand has to offer as a premiere travel destination.

I think that one of the many, many advantages of my role as Minister of Tourism is getting the opportunity to visit so many different operators, and to participate ‘hands-on’ in New Zealand’s diverse range of tourism activities.

We have some of the most stunning landscapes in the world, a unique cultural heritage, spectacular natural environments, world-leading adventure activities, fine food and wine, and even world-class shopping, to name but a few.

But at the heart of New Zealand's tourism success are our people. In managing our reputation offshore, the way we host is just as important as the special experiences and products we offer.

And that is what TRENZ is all about—building relationships. As New Zealand’s largest trade show, TRENZ is the high point of the tourism business calendar, offering an unparalleled opportunity for New Zealand operators to begin new relationships, strengthen long-standing business links, and showcase an ever more diverse range of products.

Tourism is immensely valuable to the New Zealand economy. In 2003, the Australian inbound market reached $1 billion in export earnings for the first time ever—a milestone in our relationship with our closest neighbour and biggest market. 2003 also brought us a new record in foreign exchange earnings— $6.4 billion. Tourism is, by any measure a premiere industry for the New Zealand economy, and by all projections, it will continue to grow.

As media, you play an important, ongoing role in our success. By telling the world about all we have to offer, you are critical in attracting visitors to New Zealand. (And with each tourist worth the equivalent in earnings of 2.7 tonnes of apples, 2579 pounds of butter or 1.6 tonnes of kiwifruit, your role is valuable indeed!)

Through careful research, Tourism New Zealand has identified our ideal guest. We’ve called them “Interactive Travellers.” These visitors tend to be well educated, travel internationally on a regular basis, and tend to have relatively high levels of discretionary income. They often go to the cinema, are high users of technology, read newspapers daily, and watch educational television programming.

These guests are looking for unique, authentic experiences that involve real interaction with both people and environments. Interactive travelers are exceptionally valuable to New Zealand: spending more, getting out into the outlying regions, and they are as keen as we are to interact with and protect the very environments and heritage that have drawn them here.

But identifying our target market isn’t enough—we have to get our message to them. So how do we, as a small nation, halfway around the world from many of our key customers, make ourselves heard?

Tourism New Zealand has taken an integrated approach, identifying the key media sources used by interactive travellers, and building relationships with these media worldwide. Innovative partnerships, such as the one with Discovery Channel, have resulted in comprehensive coverage of New Zealand to an enormous international audience.

Tourism New Zealand has also been working closely with travel publishers. The launch later this week of the Rough Guide to Maori New Zealand is an excellent example of the success of this strategy. This unique resource will have particular appeal to interactive travellers, who tend to seek out authentic cultural experiences.

And of course, Lord of the Rings offered us an unparalleled opportunity to raise international awareness of New Zealand as a premiere destination. The government acted quickly to make the most of that opportunity. Marketing work has been fully integrated across all elements of the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign, including an interactive LOTR map on newzealand.com—TNZ’s award-winning website.

Our International Media Programme has seen targeted media from around the world brought to New Zealand, where they have been hosted on tours throughout the country. This both built on our “Middle Earth” profile and, more importantly, exposed media to the wide range of other products, activities, and experiences available in New Zealand.

Journalists, including those brought to New Zealand for The Return of the King premiere, generated coverage estimated to have reached over 400 million people.

LOTR showed the world that we are one of the most beautiful countries on Earth. Our clean sweep of 11 Academy Awards proved beyond a shadow of a doubt our creativity, innovation, and technical capability.

And with the entire cast of Lord of the Rings acting as unofficial New Zealand ambassadors, promoting us on every chat show and every red carpet event; with all of Hollywood in love with Whale Rider’s Keisha Castle-Hughes (youngest ever nominee for a Best Actress Oscar!)—it’s little wonder that we have become one of the world’s most sought-after destinations!

New Zealand’s high profile overseas has contributed significantly to tourism’s outstanding results over the past few years. Tourism accounts for nine per cent of GDP, and one in 11 jobs. With just over two million international arrivals in 2003, and this figure set to hit 3 million by 2009, it is without a doubt one of New Zealand’s most exciting and valuable industries.

But we cannot afford to rest on our laurels or become complacent. On the contrary, we must continue to make sure that our guests’ experiences live up to the promise. One way in which the New Zealand government works to ensure this is through continued support of Qualmark, our reliable, easily recognised, standardised quality assurance system.

Over the past two years, we have fostered the development of Qualmark through $2.5 million worth of funding, to develop assessment systems, automate the business, and expand beyond its original brief of accommodation assessment. Qualmark is now available across the product spectrum: adventure activities, cultural and nature experiences to rental car companies, bus and coach operators, museums, tours, retail, cafes and more.

Today, as a further demonstration of our government’s commitment to quality tourism, I am announcing an additional $500,000 of development funding for Qualmark over the next two years.

Qualmark is a world leading licensing system. It is the only quality assurance system that can cater for such a wide range of tourism businesses. This keeps it simple for every type of buyer – wholesale or retail.

The value of this is being recognised by international buyers and tour operators. Quest Travel from the UK, Beacon Holidays of India, Outdoor New Zealand Holidays from the USA, and ATS, a New Zealand inbound tourism operator are all demonstrating their support of the Qualmark system by incorporating it in their 2004 brochures.

I am also pleased to announce today the launch of an exciting new Qualmark development—the new, ‘Exclusive’ accommodation category. Exclusive status is for establishments that are truly at the high end of New Zealand’s accommodation market.

Designed for intimate, highly individual establishments which offer the finest of locations, facilities, activities and services, this category illustrates well New Zealand’s increasing focus on sophisticated niche tourism.

Properties that have achieved a five star grade, with a 90 per cent or better score can apply for Qualmark Exclusive status. They then have to meet additional requirements including stability of management, established track record, undertaking international marketing, appropriately qualified staff and reference checks.

John Moriarty, chief executive of TIANZ, and Fiona Luhrs will be available after the speeches for more information on this exciting new category.

Qualmark has already reached a total of 1200 tourism businesses, either licensed or in the process of being licensed. This is an outstanding achievement, demonstrating the value and relevance of the Qualmark, as well as showing the high level of commitment by New Zealand’s tourism sector to deliver world-class visitor experiences.

And I am delighted to see so many of those committed businesses here at TRENZ today. Nearly three quarters of accommodation businesses and almost a third of activity and transport operators exhibiting at TRENZ this year are Qualmark licensed.

When we look at our tourism leaders, we find innovators and entrepreneurs who are industry pioneers on a global level. We have them in environmental tourism, in adventure tourism, in fine wine and food, in fashion, in culture—they are present at every level.

I am confident that the sector’s blend of talent, innovation, skill, and quality, combined with our innovative partnerships with media around the world, will allow us to build on our already excellent reputation.

New Zealand offers the kinds of experience that international travellers are looking for. We are a destination that is both friendly and full of excitement and challenge. We have the unspoilt beauty of our land and a rich, unique culture to share. We provide the authentic experience that travellers crave, reinforced by our own kiwi hospitality.

By focusing on quality, innovation, and world-class service, I believe that we can achieve the goal of a truly sustainable tourism industry--one that will both deliver economic benefit to the people of New Zealand and preserve and protect all that makes our country the special place it is.

And as a significant part of this success, I would like to thank you, the media, for the part you have played, and for your continuing interest. I hope that you all enjoy your TRENZ experience and your time here in the Garden City.


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