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Putting “Middle Earth” on the map

Mark Burton Speech: Putting “Middle Earth” on the map—New Zealand tourism and Lord of the Rings

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Congratulations on being the only venue chosen to host the Lord of the Rings exhibition in Asia, and also on the exhibition’s huge success. I understand that 80,000 people have visited—more than meeting the Science Centre’s expectations.

Many of these visitors have also been international tourists—an unexpected bonus for the Science Centre, who were expecting mostly locals to come to the exhibition.

Right now, New Zealand’s name is synonymous with Middle Earth. The LOTR trilogy offered us an unparalleled opportunity to showcase ourselves internationally as a premiere destination—not only our spectacular landscapes and environments, but our innovation, creativity, and technical capabilities.

Tourism New Zealand’s marketing work has been fully integrated across all elements, including an interactive LOTR map on—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 builds on our “Middle Earth” profile and, more importantly, exposes 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.

But our tourism sector’s foundations go much deeper than LOTR. No one event—no matter how huge—can form the basis of a truly successful tourism sector.

In 1999, the New Zealand government began to work closely with the industry to establish strong partnerships across the sector, and to develop a strategy for building a sustainable, yield-driven industry. The New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010 has been invaluable in bringing us to where we are today. It is a positive tool for indicating the ongoing direction for collaboration, not a list of directives carved on tablets of stone. In this same period, Tourism New Zealand had developed the successful 100% Pure New Zealand campaign, to deepen and broaden our image overseas, and maximise the impact of our message to our target customer. Without this work our current reputation as one of the most sought-after destinations in the world would not exist—with or without the LOTR trilogy.

In particular, the multi-award winning 100% Pure campaign has created a world-leading brand that conveys the essence of New Zealand—authenticity.

It paints a picture of the remarkable people, unique culture, and invigorating experiences visitors will find in New Zealand—not just our clean green landscape, but a 100% Pure New Zealand experience.

By its very definition, this focus on authenticity means that the 100% Pure campaign is not something that could simply be used as a kitset for other markets. It is about New Zealand.

100% Pure is an integrated, global campaign – including the key elements of advertising, international media, events leveraging, the internet, and trade training.

And of course, at this year’s Oscar ceremony, alongside the LOTR’s spectacle, a very different aspect of New Zealand was on show for the world.

Keisha Castle-Hughes became the youngest ever Best Actress nominee for her role in the movie Whale Rider—a combination of New Zealand’s scenic beauty and a rich tale of our people, culture and legends. Whale Rider has found a place in the hearts of many around the world, just as New Zealand has itself.

Together, all these elements work together to market New Zealand to our target audiences offshore—high-value guests whose expectations best match what New Zealand has to offer.

LOTR provided us with some wonderful opportunities—all the more so because we already had our tourism strategy and marketing plan in place. The trilogy fitted perfectly with our goals. With our pristine environment as a backdrop, we were able to showcase New Zealand’s originality, creativity and above all, our quality. LOTR represented all of those things.

It was an audacious undertaking on a global scale, a mind-set you in Singapore have demonstrated to the world, in this case, our beautiful little country dared to be a world leader. It was about state-of-the-art special effects, and exquisite creative design. These were the messages we wanted to convey about our nation as a whole—and that’s what our visitors can expect. If we are going to continue to be one of the world’s most sought-after, premiere destinations, and that is certainly our intention, New Zealand will have to be courageous enough to know what we do well, and do it! No destination can be all things to all people. And we need to be ambitious enough to hold our nerve, and not be tempted to deviate from our commitment to quality.

Quality, too, is the hallmark of the Singapore Science Centre, and this is evident in your mission statement—“to promote interest, learning and creativity in science and technology, through imaginative and enjoyable experience.” With more than 850 exhibits in your various galleries, you certainly live up to these objectives. A visitor spending 5 minutes on each one would need nearly a week to see them all!

Like you, we are constantly in pursuit of excellence. I am here tonight as Minister of Tourism. When we look at our tourism industry leaders, we see innovators and entrepreneurs, who consistently give us world-leading experiences. We have them in environmental tourism, in adventure tourism, in fine wine and food, in fashion, in culture—we have them at every level.

We can deliver world-class products and services—and again, like you, New Zealand should not settle for anything less.

So, as we celebrate tonight the successful staging of the LOTR exhibition here at the Science Centre, I want to close by encouraging you all to share further in the 100% Pure New Zealand Middle Earth experience.

We are Middle Earth, we are bungee jumping, we are Queenstown, we are fine wine and food, we are Karen Walker design, and we are Pai riding the whale. We are all this—and so much more.

As a feature article in a recent Washington Post proclaimed, if you haven't just spent the last five minutes planning a holiday to New Zealand you've just wasted 5 minutes!

Thank you again.

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