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TNT Hitchhiking Edition Pulled

4 December, 2007

TNT Hitchhiking Edition Pulled After Strong Industry Reaction

A strong reaction from NZBackpack.com, the backpacking industry body, has resulted in the retraction of the December issue of the backpacking magazine TNT.

The cover and feature article titled ‘Thumbs up - a hitchhiker’s guide to NZ’ promoted hitchhiking as a method for backpackers to get around New Zealand. NZBackpack.com was concerned at the message a positive TNT article on hitchhiking would send to young travellers.

Following correspondence from NZBackpack.com and individually from companies on the NZBackpack.com board, TNT announced it would pull and destroy the current December edition and re-print with a different lead story.

Industry leaders on the board of NZBackpack.com include Intercity Group, Kiwi Experience, Magic Travellers Network, Jucy Rentals, Agroventures, Base, WitchWay Communications and YHA New Zealand. Several of the group had committed to withdrawing the hitchhiking edition from distribution through their businesses.

While initially surprised at the strong industry response Ian Wakeling, Publishing Director of TNT in Australia, took the decision to pull and re-print the December edition with different articles. He commented that feedback they had received from distributors throughout New Zealand had been supportive of the decision and pleased with TNT’s rapid response to the situation.

The feature presented a dilemma for the sector as the TNT magazine is largely distributed through backpacking accommodation and transport businesses. Following the Birgit Brauer case many in the backpacking sector have placed more information in their businesses to warn backpackers against hitchhiking.

Justine Brown, NZ Product and Operations Manager of Base Travel, stated that travel shop staff are trained to advise clients about the need to be prudent when travelling in New Zealand. “TNT’s position on hitchhiking would have made it difficult for us to promote a clear safety message for our guests.”

Daniel Shields, Manager, Marketing and Sales of YHA New Zealand, noted that Birgit Brauer had stayed in a number of YHAs around the country and her death had prompted YHA to re-examine the information it provided to travellers on hitchhiking. YHA did not want to be in a position of prominently displaying a hitchhiking feature in its lobbies.
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“Operators from across the industry had a unified approach to the Birgit Brauer case and that carried over to the TNT article. We all love New Zealand and think it’s a great place. It is generally safe, but at times that lulls travellers into a false sense of security. We all encourage safe and responsible travel and that means strongly advising potentially naïve travellers against hitchhiking.” Shields said.

The NZBackpack.com board noted that with the TNT article coming at the beginning of the summer season it was a timely reminder to operators to tell travellers to travel safely and responsibly while they enjoying New Zealand.

NZBackpack.com is the industry body of the New Zealand Backpacking sector. It was formerly known as the Backpack Tourism Marketing Network (BTMN). The group is largely funded and supported by national operators, but is open to all businesses with an interest in the backpacking market. The group’s objectives are to promote backpacking and youth travel in New Zealand to consumers and to communicate the interests of the sector to government and tourism industry agencies, other tourism sectors and media.

The board of NZBackpack.com is

Andrea Blair– WitchWay Ltd – a tourism marketing consultancy
Brendon Pope – National Manager, Kiwi Experience
Rob Burnell – CEO, Tourmasters / Magic Travellers Network
Daniel Rode – Sales and Marketing Manager, Intercity Group
Daniel Shields – Sales and Marketing Manager, YHA New Zealand
Justine Brown – Product and Operations Manager, Base Travel
Tim Alpe – CEO, Ezy Rentals
Melissa Craig -Sales and Marketing Manager, Agroventures

ENDS

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