Interviews

Our aim is to grow preference for New Zealand as a holiday destination: Steven Dixon

new-z-steven-dixon-nvArguably amongst the most desired leisure destinations in the world, New Zealand is emerging a tourism hotspot as it sees a new resurgence in the number of visitors from around the world. India is already among the top source and growing in double digits. Steven Dixon, Regional Manager – South and South East Asia, Tourism New Zealand tells Suman Tarafdar he is confident of the market growing even more as New Zealand campaigns to attract more of the young adventure seeking Indian to try out bungee jumping, skiing, sailing, learning the haka, jet boating, sheep rearing, or just getting pampered in a range of spas as they discover this ancient and fascinating land of Aotearoa.

How many Indians have visited New Zealand in the past five years? Could we get figures for each year?
India is New Zealand’s ninth largest source market – For the year ending April total arrivals from India were up 11.4 per cent (46,928 arrivals), while holiday arrivals were up 16.4 per cent (23,440).

nz-tabWhat is the rate of growth year-on-year?
The market is growing at +11.3% with 46,928 arrivals (YTD April 2016).  We saw an increase in holiday arrivals of 16.4%on the previous 12 months

 How is Tourism New Zealand looking to speed up the visa process?
Our team is constantly working with Immigration New Zealand to process the tourist visa. In November 2014, under the Tourism Industry Partnership, Tourism New Zealand signed an agreement with Immigration New Zealand (INZ) and six key travel agents from India. The MoU aimed to attract Business Events visitors through faster processing times and reduced paperwork to the destination. The Indian market is an extremely important one for us and it’s striking to see the increase in the number of Indians choosing New Zealand as their favoured destination

What percentage of Indian visitors are going for leisure / business / MICE/ other? Are they also looking to combine business and leisure?
India is among top 10 international source markets for Tourism New Zealand. Indian arrivals during the off season in New Zealand maintain a balance in our visitor arrivals

We have seen an immense potential for growth among various travel segments from India.

Indian travellers visiting New Zealand have started opting for off-beat travel experiences such as self-drive tours, hard and soft adventure activities, exploring Maori culture and much more.
• One of our most important travel segments from India is the Independent Professional (including honeymooners). This is the category that does not just want to sight-see in New Zealand but also experience all its offerings first hand; scenic, cultural, adventure and leisure. Another key focus for us is the MICE segment, which continues to be a high contributor to the economy through travel

On average, how long are Indians spending in New Zealand?
The average length of stay of Indian holiday arrivals in New Zealand for year ending april 2016 is 13.4 days

Total length of stay of Indian travellers in New Zealand for the year ending April 2016 is 48.3 days as compared to 48.1 days last year

What are most visited destinations for Indians in New Zealand?
Auckland, Christchurch , Queenstown, Wellington and Rotorua are some of the well-known destinations amongst Indian travellers.

We have also seen an increase in interest to explore destinations like Northland and hidden gems like Nelson, Hawke’s Bay, Bay of Plenty.

Milford Sound is New Zealand’s top tourist destination and it’s not hard to see why. With incredible landscapes of waterfalls, mirrored waters, tall peaks and lush rain forests, this fjord has been named by some as the 8th Wonder of the World (not to mention one of the key filming locations for Lord of the Rings). You’ll spot incredible wildlife like penguins, whales, dolphins and the rare species of blue duck which is native to New Zealand.
Milford Sound is New Zealand’s top tourist destination and it’s not hard to see why. With incredible landscapes of waterfalls, mirrored waters, tall peaks and lush rain forests, this fjord has been named by some as the 8th Wonder of the World (not to mention one of the key filming locations for Lord of the Rings). You’ll spot incredible wildlife like penguins, whales, dolphins and the rare species of blue duck which is native to New Zealand

What are the main challenges to getting more Indian tourists to New Zealand?
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, 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 are short and medium term goals of Tourism New Zealand in India?
Our aim is to grow preference for New Zealand as a holiday destination; to increase holiday arrivals, length of stay and spend; and to drive shoulder season travel – i.e. in New Zealand spring and autumn.

India stands as a country that has responded well to our activities and campaigns for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 with Stephen Fleming, the Hobbit film trilogy, the Influencer programme with Sidharth Malhotra and our programmes with the travel trade fraternity.

While we continue to focus on the independent professionals segment, MICE will be one of our key priorities in the upcoming months. We currently host many incentive groups from India annually with sizes usually ranging from 50-150 participants. However, it is not uncommon for larger groups of up to 400 people to travel to New Zealand from India. In the last 11 months we have successfully hosted fourteen Incentive groups from India with a value of 3.7 NZD million dollars.

siddharth malhotra new zealand
Brand ambassador Sidharth Malhotra was chosen for his appeal to the young Indian traveller

is lo• Who are the TG for Tourism New Zealand in India? In what ways are you looking to increase awareness about New Zealand in your TG in India?
Tourism New Zealand’s key target segment in India is independent professionals –people age 25-54. These include honeymooners, and / or couples who travel with other family members (i.e. siblings). There is also a market for corporate business events and incentive groups

The Indian market has a strong Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) component (about 30 per cent of total visitors), while holiday visitors account for almost 50 per cent of arrivals

Campaign in India
• Our current activity works to maintain post-CWC momentum by leveraging the New Zealand International Cricket World Cup legacy.
• For the first time ever in India we have engaged an ambassador last year to increase our awareness with visitors. We announced Bollywood actor, Sidharth Malhotra as the ambassador of Tourism New Zealand for India and he was invited to New Zealand to experience the country first-hand and share with his millions of fans. With this announcement we have been reaching out to the Independent Professionals with a 360 degree marketing campaign
• Using our Indian tourism ambassador, Sidharth Malhotra, TNZ’s brand campaign activity focused on shoulder season conversion and targeted independent professionals through print and digital media
• In February 2016, TNZ launched its 100% Pure New Zealand campaign with a New Zealand highlights video of Sidharth’s experiences in New Zealand.
• Business Events also continues remains a priority sector for development with significant promise shown in the Indian incentive market.

newzealand-wellington-nh
The national capital of New Zealand is amongst the bevy of very picturesque cities dotting the nation

Which cities would Tourism New Zealand target and through which mediums?
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. These are people who already have New Zealand on their top five holiday destinations list- we refer to them as Active Considerers.

Our main focus currently is on metro cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata. We have also started expanding our focus on growing mini metros including Pune, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Surat, Bhopal, Nagpur, Amritsar and Ludhiana

We run an integrated marketing campaign to reach out to our audience in India through joint advertisement campaigns with our trade and airline partners, Public Relations, travel trade engagement and social media engagement

Any other relevant factor for Tourism New Zealand to grow in India
We are increasing marketing activity to target more India visitors for the coming year. There will be extra funding that will further support Tourism New Zealand’s capacity to grow the Indian visitor market, which was identified in 2013 as holding significant potential for New Zealand.

In a pre-budget announcement during Trenz 2016, the Prime Minister John Key confirmed an additional $8 million over four years for Tourism New Zealand to target visitor growth opportunities in the USA and Indian markets.

The additional funding will help us up-weight the training of travel agents to support their ability to sell travel to New Zealand during the shoulder seasons. This includes increasing our focus on the New Zealand Specialist Programme, in-market trade training and hosting Tourism New Zealand led events, such as Kiwi Link India that will help connect the New Zealand industry with the Indian travel trade

We will extend our investment in aviation partnerships to maximise sales in the key May-June travel period for Indian visitors. We will continue our successful opinion leader programmes to drive awareness and preference for New Zealand, building on the achievements with tourism ambassador Sidharth Malhotra and successful collaborations with New Zealand cricketers, such as Stephen Fleming to engage with our target groups in the market

As more Indian’s become aware of New Zealand’s spectacular landscapes, amazing activities, Maori culture and friendly locals, we are hoping to see the momentum of double digit arrival growth to continue in FY17.

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