New Zealand is a country with stunning landscapes and diverse natural beauty. A multicultural nation of people from Māori, Europe, Pacific and Asian origins, it is a quintessential melting pot. Tourism New Zealand markets the country to the world as a visitor destination. The primary tool the board uses to do this is the ‘100% Pure New Zealand’ campaign, which is the longest running tourism campaign in the world. The campaign has evolved over the past two decades to make New Zealand one of the world's most well-respected tourism brands while taking its story to consumers, the travel trade and the global media. Steven Dixon, Regional Manager – South and South East Asia, Tourism New Zealand – speaks to New Delhi-based senior journalist Neeta Lal about his plans for the India market, interesting travel trends emerging from India and how the board is catering to an eclectic demographic across the country.
How important is the India market for New Zealand tourism?
India is a priority market for Tourism New Zealand. Indian arrivals during the shoulder season in New Zealand help maintain a balance in our visitor arrivals. We see immense potential for growth amongst the Independent Professional travel segment from India. In the last six years, holiday arrivals to New Zealand have doubled.
What are the challenges you face in India? The fact that it is a long haul destination must be a dampener for some Indian travellers?
There are currently no direct air services between New Zealand and India, however there are a range of options for Indian travellers to reach New Zealand via Asian hubs. The top three hubs for Indian travellers are Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok with Singapore Airlines/ Air New Zealand, Malaysia Airlines and Thai Airways. Tourism New Zealand is closely working to build brand awareness and form partnerships with the airlines and airports to increase conversion of arrivals during the New Zealand shoulder season.
What is your focus area in tapping the Indian market – Cities or tier I/II towns? Or only metros?
We recently held Kiwi Link India in Mumbai which is an annual offshore trade event that provides a unique opportunity for representatives of the New Zealand tourism industry to educate and establish business relationships with key trade partners in India. The Mumbai event was followed by training for frontline travel agents in Delhi and Kolkata. We help upskill agents from Tier II cities so they understand and can sell the destination better. With an increase in growing disposable incomes in these cities, the spending on leisure travel has increased as well.
Why should Indian travellers choose NZ as a travel/leisure destination?
New Zealand is an all-season destination with each season having something unique to offer and delight our visitors. It offers a range of tourism experiences thus catering to different travellers and their holiday styles. The Indian summer season coincides with New Zealand’s autumn and winter. New Zealand enjoys autumn from March to May and winter from June to August. This makes it an attractive destination for Indian travellers to visit New Zealand, to escape the heat and enjoy its autumn and winter offerings, including a stunning natural environment and snow-capped mountain scenery.
Do you have any specific Indian demographic as a focus area?
Our target audiences in India are people who are not just aware of New Zealand, but seriously consider New Zealand as one of their preferred holiday destinations. They already have New Zealand on their top five holiday destinations list and have a strong desire to visit the destination. Tourism New Zealand’s key target segment in India are people in the age group of 25-54. These include honeymooners, and/ or couples who travel with other family members and friends. There is also a market for corporate business events and incentive groups.
Which are the most popular regions/trails in NZ for Indian travellers?
To the ones who seek adventure New Zealand is a paradise. Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the world. With about 220 different activities and attractions on offer, there’s never a shortage of options for visitors including bungee jumping, sky diving, jet boating, world-class skiing and snowboarding.Rotorua is a geothermal wonderland with exploding geysers, brightly coloured lakes, hot springs and steaming craters. It is the perfect destination for a leisurely experience.Attractions like rainforests, wild hike trails, hidden coves, picturesque islands, and mysterious volcanoes make Auckland a perfect base for adventure lovers. The Manukau Harbour and Waitemata Harbour, are jewels of the Auckland crown. Wellington, the capital, is a lively city, proud of its arts and culture, craft beer and café scene, and its dramatic harbour setting. It is the home to the Museum of New Zealand - Te Papa Tongarewa, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Royal New Zealand Ballet. The city is also a creative hub for New Zealand’s booming film industry.Christchurch and Canterbury bordered by the snow-capped Southern Alps in the west and the Pacific Ocean in the east, is a vast playground for outdoor adventures. Urban regeneration, creativity and innovation flow through the city with new restaurants and bars, street art and vibrant new retail areas. At the same time the city stays true to its heritage, offering a traditional English feel. For those curious to learn about New Zealand’s culture and heritage, there are many Maori cultural experiences to choose from across the country. New Zealand’s spectacular scenery leaves visitors spellbound and self-drive tours are one of the best options to explore the country at one’s own pace.
How popular is adventure tourism among Indians in NZ?
Adventure activities are very popular among our Indian visitors and activities such as skydiving, jet boating and bungee jumping have high participation rates.
Any new popular tourism trends emerging as far as NZ is concerned with regard to Indian travellers?
One trend we have observed, is that visitors to New Zealand are becoming increasingly interested in interacting with our people and culture. They still want to tick off the iconic tourism experiences, but they also desire more local and very authentic experiences - whether that be visiting a farmer’s market, taking part in a local event or even just trying local delicacies. Indian travellers continue to be adventurous and keen to pack as many ‘bucket list’ experiences into their holiday as possible. Many Indians are also opting for self-drive tours as experiential travel is superseding that of just sight-seeing.