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Better to protect rather than cover up NZ’s greatest asset

Better to protect rather than cover up NZ’s greatest asset, UC lecturer

November 28, 2012

A University of Canterbury (UC) marketing lecturer says New Zealand tourism’s 100% Pure campaign was just a good marketing gimmick, but there was no excuse if it was generally incorrect.

Rather than silence the critics, why not work to make NZ 100% Pure, UC researcher Dr Ekant Veer said today.

``We accept some level of `puffery’ in advertising, but this does not mean that lying should be encouraged or tolerated. If New Zealand’s environment is suffering, then something should be done about it, as the backlash can be huge.

``The response from the Government has been that opposition to the 100% Pure campaign has been unhelpful and affects jobs in New Zealand.

``We are building an expectation for visitors that we are a pure, clean country – these visitors are likely to spend thousands of dollars to get here and then spend thousands more once they are here – if they do not find a pure, clean country and are constantly warned about the dangers of swimming in certain waterways then this has a strong negative effect on their long-lasting impressions of New Zealand,’’ he said.

``It’s clear the Government recognises the importance of New Zealand’s clean green image. Rather than cover up the fact that we may not be, why not strive to make the country clean and green. It is our greatest asset, why not protect it?’’ Dr Veer said.

Prime Minister John Key has said the 100% Pure marketing campaign had to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Key dismissed criticism of New Zealand's 100% Pure brand, saying people did not expect waterways to be 100 percent pollution-free any more than they expected to be "lovin'" McDonalds every time they ate it.

Tourism New Zealand's 100% Pure campaign came under fire again last week as international media reported that it misrepresented the country's environmental record.

Dr Veer said overseas, New Zealand had a very strong reputation of being an open and visually stunning place to live. The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies have helped to solidify this.

``It’s no secret any tourism advertising campaign will promote the very best bits about a country. However, when an advertising message becomes so fantastical that it is setting unrealistic expectations for visitors, there can be a sense of disappointment and even anger at the very different perception that was presented on TV and that which is presented when visitors arrive.

``One example comes from Tuscany which received a huge boom in tourism on the back of the movie Under a Tuscan Sun. However, the movie presented such an unrealistic idealisation of Tuscany that many tourists never returned and some even dissuaded others from visiting.

``We don’t need something like that here as we rely heavily on tourism. The first visitor is easy to get. However, it’s persuading that visitor to return and have them act as ambassadors to persuade others to come to New Zealand that is hard. If we leave visitors disappointed because they feel they’ve been duped by advertising, we won’t get the return visitors and could have them dissuade others from visiting.’’

Dr Veer said New Zealand’s international perception was excellent. He said it should not be tarnished by pretending the country was clean and green when in reality, it was mostly appealing only because not many people live here.

``If we had the same population as the UK or Japan (which have similar land masses to us) and operated the same way we do now, I have no doubt our country would not be as beautiful as it is.’’

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