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Damien O" Connor - Speech at ITOC conference

Damien O" Connor - Speech at ITOC conference

Inbound operators are critically important to the tourism industry.

Kia Ora

Thank you for inviting me to speak today.

I would like to acknowledge Paul Yeo, ITOC chief executive, and its President Stuart Neels.

Inbound operators are critically important to the tourism industry.

The relationships you create and maintain are key links for New Zealand tourism, and the role you play in transforming those relationships into business cannot be underestimated.

I am also aware that many of our major suppliers are here today. Without the innovative, satisfying, and profitable tourism products and services you provide, there would be no tourism industry.

The ITOC conference has always been an important annual event. It is a time where those most focused on the business end of the industry come together to meet and talk about the future.

I congratulate both ITOC and TIA for bringing together the ITOC conference and the tourism conference this year. It will provide a great deal of added benefit across the sector and save costs for many.

One of the challenges facing ITOC, and indeed the whole tourism industry moving forward, is determining how to manage quality in the China market.

It is an issue that is also high on the Government's agenda. Recently my Chinese counterpart Chairman Shao Qiwei and I discussed the quality of tours from China.

We are working hard to build on our relationship with the Chinese Government, which plays a huge role in overseeing the Chinese travel trade.

It was reassuring to hear Chairman Shao reconfirm his government's commitment to the provision of quality holidays for their outbound travellers in this country while also promoting the quality of holidays in his huge country.

I'm sure we can build a sound partnership to utilise the new direct air link to Shanghai from November.

This year Tourism New Zealand will be developing a strategic plan for investment in China, balancing the need for New Zealand to address this emerging market with the need to maintain our focus on current key markets.

Co-ordination work with enforcement agencies will continue to ensure that all tourism operators, not just those in the China market, are operating on a level playing field - one with increasing levels of quality of service across the whole tourism industry.

You will soon be invited to discuss the options developed for the Onshore Approved Destination status review, and I encourage you to participate in the consultation.

It is crucial to remember in outlining these actions that the future of this market, indeed of all international markets, is in your hands.

It is your decision-making that determines how we match supply to international demand.

Whatever the Government does through enforcement agencies, or Tourism New Zealand, it is what you do on the ground that projects the image of New Zealand out around the world.

It shapes your business success, the satisfaction of your customers and builds opportunities for tourism into the future.

As an industry, we need to maintain an even sharper focus on quality, which must continue to be the cornerstone of New Zealand's tourism industry.

While there is always room to improve, we are making good progress on many fronts. We have a high-quality brand in our key markets, a major quality accreditation programme in Qualmark, and great products and services being delivered by outstanding New Zealand tourism companies.

'100% Pure' has successfully showcased all of this. It has done, and continues to do, an excellent job for New Zealand.

We now need to turn our attention to capitalising on that global awareness, by showing visitors how easy it is to get to New Zealand and that the time to travel here is now.

For many, New Zealand is a "once-in-a lifetime" trip, often taken during retirement years. We must challenge this thinking.

We have already made a start. The recent launch of our Australian marketing campaign demonstrates to Australians that New Zealand is a collection of unique regions.

Instead of experiencing all that we have to offer in one go, they are being encouraged to visit more often, a weekend here and a week there, to explore one region at a time.

Likewise, the West Coast of the United States. Tourism New Zealand's 'half a day, and a whole world away' tag line reminds Americans that New Zealand is closer than they think.

It's up to ITOC to continue to work closely with Tourism New Zealand to convert as many potential travellers as we can to real visitors.

Overseas, levels of awareness of New Zealand have never been higher, thanks to Lord of the Rings, the Americas Cup, and plenty of other successes. Perhaps with a little help from Nike - you know the catchphrase - we can get all those who are fascinated with New Zealand to be captivated by it.

These kinds of issues underscore much of the thinking that is happening at present around our tourism strategy.

On Wednesday, the Tourism Industry Conference will focus on the mid-term update of the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010.

Updating and improving the strategy in response to changing demands and new opportunities makes good business sense.

I encourage you at the business end of the industry to help shape the decisions and actions needed to take New Zealand tourism forward.

Your participation and leadership is crucial to ensure the updated NZTS 2010 leads us to fulfil the potential of our exciting and dynamic industry.

Thank you.


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