A mystery Christmas function with Malaysia Airlines (MH) yesterday saw managers and agents from the airline's key travel agencies brave the unpleasant wind and rain to climb under, around and over the Auckland Harbour Bridge. After some winding down with some nibbles prepared by Satay World, the surprise day continued with lunch at the Riverheard Tavern, New Zealand's first riverside tavern, where 7 Days comedian Dai Henwood appeared as a surprise guest, sharing his best airline, pilot and aviation jokes.
After a difficult year in the New Zealand market last year, 2013 has been positive for Malaysia Airlines, allowing for a permanent seventh service ex AKL to be introduced from March 2014.
Arrival statistics from Australia and New Zealand to South Africa are increasing at a significant rate, and organisers of the Africa showcase, South Africa-based On Show Solutions and South African Tourism, felt the timing was right to stage an industry event for these two emerging markets. Held at the Langham in Auckland late November, it was the final event of a five city roadshow, that took 18 Southern and East Africa exhibitors to Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Auckland. The showcase featured products including hotels, game lodges, trains and tourist boards, and local partners Adventure World, World Journeys and South African Airlines. Almost 100 agents attended the evening, that included a product seminar, traditional sounds and African-inspired food.
With the NZD hitting a five-year high against the AUD, new attractions at the theme parks and a host of events taking place in Queensland over the next 12 months, the message from Tourism Events Queensland (TEQ) is 'now is the time to visit'. At a Christmas thank-you lunch for industry yesterday at the Hilton Auckland, Sally Holyer, TEQ says Kiwis are still the number one international visitor market to the state.
'We have a nationwide campaign currently underway in the NZ market highlighting the theme parks, reinforcing that Queensland is fun and reminding people that there is loads to do here. Next year in Brisbane The Rocky Horror Picture Show will take to the stage at the Lyric Theatre on January 8, the blockbuster art exhibition, Cai Guo-Qiang at the Gallery of Modern Art from now until April. In May we have Opera on the Beach in the Gold Coast and the annual Noosa Food and Wine Festival on the Sunshine Coast - there are so many reasons to visit Queensland in 2014. And for the business sector, ATE is being happening in Cairns from May 11 - 15,' says Holyer.
Eva Knox and Mick Cottrell, Jetstar with Sabrina McLeod, (centre) Tourism Events Queensland at Fish Restaurant
<<Colleagues Karen McMahon and Jason Buckley, GO Holidays with Jenny Aitken, Tourism Australia
>>Steve McRoberts, TEQ Brisbane and Julia Paley, House of Travel Auckland
<< Jill Holloway TEQ Brisbane and Sabrina McLeod Tourism Events Queensland
>>Adele Barker, Air New Zealand and Rachel Pedder, Air New Zealand ready for the delicious dessert
Two teams, Tourism Events Queensland and Tourism Australia; one big thank-you from... Sabrina McLeod, Steve McRoberts, Sally Holyer TEQ; Jenny Aitken, Tourism Australia; Penny La Belle, Andrew Sinclair, Jill Holloway, TEQ and Chris Ingram, Tourism Australia
Fiji's Mamanuca Island's invited product managers and other business partners to a Christmas thank you at Swashbucklers in Auckland late November.
Nick Darling from Fiji's Volivoli Resort was in Auckland recently and celebrated the arrival of the resort's dive yacht Fiji Siren with a sail on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour with wholesale partners. It was also an opportunity to update wholesalers on Volivoli's scheduled activities for guests which include Friday cultural evenings with traditional meke and beachside bonfire. Sunset Cruises depart on Tuesday and Thursday evenings where guests are treated to the beauty of the sunset in the Vatu Ra Straight overlooking the island of Nanui Ra.
Soni's day tour departs at 9am from the resort for our four hour excursion to a traditional working Fijiian community. Head barman Soni is a local Turaga (village elder) who has worked for the Darling family for more than 12 years and he is passionate about sharing the history and beauty of the local Rakiraki area. He explains the colourful history of the region and the highlight for many guests is visiting the local school where guest are treated to a 'Fijian haka.' The day is completed with a trip to the waterfall for a swim to cool off.
PAICE's Hawaiian delegation last night hosted an intimate 'mahalo' dinner for New Zealand conference and incentive organisers that have contributed or will soon send business to the 'hot spot' destination.
While Hawaii's leisure visitor numbers out of New Zealand have increased year on year by 73% and its MCI (meetings, conferences and incentives) have seen a massive 197% boost, it's important to keep that growth sustained by offering reasons to come back, says Hawaii Oceania Tourism representative Darragh Walshe.
'When a destination sees a year with double its air capacity, the key is to keep that sustained, and Hawaii's diversity within its six islands mean that people have reasons to come back and enjoy a different experience each time,' says Walshe.
With Hawaiian Airlines operating direct Auckland to Honolulu flights since March 2013 and complementing Air New Zealand's direct route, Hawaii has seen a doubling of its airlift, from 25,000 to 50,000 seats a year.
2013 was the first time that all of Hawaii's island chains were represented at PAICE (Pacific Area Incentives and Conferences Expo).
Western Australia welcomed 81,000 Kiwis to the state over the past 12 months, signalling consistent growth year on year growth. 'Each year we achieve an average of six percent growth from the NZ market, and the spend is up 27%,' says Louise Frend, NZ marketing manager, Tourism Western Australia. ‘The New Zealand market is maturing and travellers to Western Australia are not just about VFR. We are seeing dispersal from Perth to the other regions, notably the south west, which is known for its wine, truffles and wildflowers, and the north west to Broome, the Kimberley and the Bungle and Bungles.’
The delegation from Western Australia visited Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland, updating agents on the state and the attractions. Frend says the trade is familiar with the eastern states, now it’s time to become familiar with the west. ‘We offer the WA Holiday Specialist programme which will foster the agents and help them sell WA. And the turn out in each city has been fantastic – which speaks volumes about the interest there is in WA.’
Perth is undergoing a revitalisation, to make it a cosmopolitan city. The Swan River is being dredged to create Elizabeth Quay, a 1.5km boardwalk with restaurants, public spaces and hotels; a new underground railway from Northridge is planned; in the beach suburb Scarborough a new boardwalk will be built and what was once the hub for the 1987 America’s Cup, Freemantle will receive a multi-million facelift.
Jodie Bernard and Rebecca Goodin, Flight Centre with Jasmine Meagher, Australia's South West, Paula Turner and Julie Fogerty, Kauri Communications
Terri Hardisty from House of Travel Mission Bay won a five night Delhi / Agra / Jaipur package with Exotic Holidays and Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces last night at an Auckland event jointly hosted by Tourism India, Exotic Holidays and Taj Hotels. Celebrating the company's three year milestone, Exotic 's Rahul Sharma says his India itineraries focus on attention to detail. 'We give our clients a prepaid mobile phone, preloaded with the number of our 24/7 concierge service,' he says. 'Our clients have the number before they leave on their holiday so that their family have a contact number in India.'
The concierge service offers travelers on the ground information once they arrive in the destination. Sharma says India continues to appeal to a wide demographic including special interest groups. 'India has 71 wildlife tours and bird sanctuaries, and 30,000 traditional fairs and festivals each year.'
Left, from left, Leonie Keene and Laura Thomson, House of Travel Ellerslie and Therese Brooking, A Walker's World
Right, Tandem Travel consultants, Daniel Lefebre, Alex Raine, Sue Finlayson, Shannon Van Rooyen, Amanda Alker
Visit Anchorage, The State of Alaska and six key Alaskan vendors made a flying visit to Auckland last night, meeting with industry members at Hotel DeBrett, in High Street.
In town to spread the word about what Alaska is all about, each agent was given a passport with seven questions to answer about Alaska and a shot glass for tastings of vodka - word on the street was the salmon flavoured vodka was excellant.
David Kasser, Visit Anchorage, updated the industry with the latest information. 'Australians and Kiwis make up the largest visitor markets, with 36,000 visiting for the year ending 2011. There are only six major highways in Alaska, so floatplanes and ships are quite normal modes of transportation and we see the majority of visitors arriving by cruise ship. Alaska has no sales tax - great for shopping and dining out; we have 17 of North America's tallest peaks; five percent of the state is covered in glaciers and there are over 90 mammal species - bears, moose, otters, whales for example and great bird life to be seen.'
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