AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Following Tuesday morning's announcement that Tourism New Zealand and STA Travel signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) worth a combined $1 million annually, Travel Agent sat down with tourism representatives to find out just how important the youth and luxury markets are for the destination.
The Memorandum represents a partnership to target the influential long-haul youth travel sector in North America. The partnership will also take place in the United Kingdom and Continental Europe. The MOU was announced Tuesday by Tourism New Zealand’s CEO, Kevin Bowler, and John Constable, CEO of STA Travel Group, during TRENZ 2013, New Zealand's largest trade show of the year.
Under the MOU, the organizations will collaborate to jointly promote youth tourism to New Zealand across marketing, online, trade and PR activity.
While the youth market out of the U.S. is a new market New Zealand is aggressively seeking, Bowler says that the luxury segment from the U.S. remains the destination's main focus.
"I think the one thing that agents from the States are still missing is all of the luxury products we have," Bowler says, noting that the destination's reputation for outdoor activities and adventures often equates in a perception of a lack of luxury.
Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, John Key, recently released details of Budget initiatives for tourism, including roughly $28 million for business events and $17 million to attract very high-value clients. As part of a larger internationally-focused growth package, the Government is investing an additional $132 million in tourism through Budget 2013 to attract more visitors to New Zealand, particularly high-spending visitors.
Of that money, Key told us that roughly $23.5 million of those funds will be used to promote New Zealand's core markets, which includes the U.S. The money allocated toward U.S. marketing will be used primarily to promote the destination via digital media and to promote the destination to agents. In fact, Tourism New Zealand is already slated to host a mega fam in late May, in which 200 agents will tour the country.
Gregg Anderson, general manager for Tourism New Zealand's Western and Long Haul Markets, says the biggest change agents need to make when pitching New Zealand is telling the client that the destination is a great option on its own.
"I think you see a lot of Americans coming here and doing a few days here and a few days in Australia," says Anderson, "and agents really need to let their clients know that New Zealand can stand on its own as a great vacation opportunity."