Hot Off The Press

Sun, Surf, SUP – agents on tour on the Gold Coast

Tuesday, 21 March 2017 15:12

The eagerly awaited Gold Coast VIP famil took off last week, and 22 agents from around New Zealand experienced some of the Gold Coast’s popular attractions, sporting events and leisure activities.

Around half the group were first-time visitors to the region, including Michelle Sanders from Inspire Travel. ‘While our office is mainly corporate, we do have incentive business and the Gold Coast is on the cards for these clients. Coming on this trip is not only beneficial for me, but my staff as I will relay all the things we did, the ease of getting around and the accommodation standards and locations. I was excited to hold the Koala at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, but also humbled to see first hand the amazing work these people do in rescuing and looking after the wildlife. I also enjoyed the Stand Up Paddle Boarding – took me out of my comfort zone, but in a good way.’

Another first timer, Bryce Read from Travel Managers, he has been selling the Gold Coast for years bu thought it was about time he experienced what his clients love about the place. ‘I enjoyed Movie World, being bit of a Wonder Woman fan, but also the rides are great fun and the park has an easy to navigate layout.’

The group also went behind the scenes at the Quicksilver and Roxy Pro surfing tournament; had VIP access to a Gold Coast Titans vs Eels NRL match; explored the new NightQuarter; got their teeth into a show at Dracula’s  and then leapt to great heights in the Treetop Challenge at Tambourine Mountain.

The five-day famil was organised by Gold Coast Tourism in conjunction with local accommodation providers and tourism partners; Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia.


Ovation indeed: Mega ship creates mega sales

Tuesday, 21 March 2017 13:07

Ovation of the Seas well-trumpeted arrival into New Zealand waters has more than doubled Kiwi sales for RCL Cruises’ three brands this season.
Mark Kinchley, RCL sales manager New Zealand, says sales have risen to ‘new heights’ year on year since the company set up here with only one ship seven years ago.
But the impact Royal Caribbean’s 348m-long mega ship has had on sales across the six vessels it now has in its stable has been nothing short of ‘incredible’, Kinchley says.
‘We are currently running 50 to 60% ahead of sales compared to this time last year,’ he says.
Ovation became the largest cruise ship to enter New Zealand waters when it arrived in on 22 December with 6500 passengers and crew on board.
Kinchley acknowledges Ovation’s arrival had been a massive undertaking, but he describes the reaction from the public as being beyond his wildest dream
‘Everyone worked so hard in preparation for its arrival, so to see it so well received at every port was overwhelming... about 6000 people turned up to farewell the ship in Tauranga alone,’ he says.
‘I remember wearing my Royal Caribbean T-shirt, and having strangers coming up to me to shake my hand. To be honest, those times count as some of the proudest moments I’ve experienced in the industry in 35 years.’
Ovation appears to have been the first milestone in a product-win trifecta few months across RCL Cruises’ three brands.
Luxury ship Azamara Journey, under Azamara Club Cruises, arrived into the country for the first time fresh from a $25 million refurbishment.
‘This brand has in the last 18 months being taking on a presence in New Zealand. Kiwis are increasingly understanding Azamara is five-star cruising for people who want to take the speed out of every day life.’
And, on Thursday, the first details of Celebrity Cruises’ first build in five years – Celebrity Edge – was revealed to trade in Auckland.
The ultra-modern ship, which was designed in 3D and features the much hyped Magic Carpet ‘venue’ that rides up and down the vessel as well as split-level villas, will start its Caribbean season in December 2018.
‘I’m delighted we have another incredible story to tell beyond Celebrity Solistice [assigned to New Zealand each year for four seasons],’ says Kinchley. ‘It delivers an experience many other ships can’t deliver.’
Kinchley predicts the boom times are likely to continue, adding cruising has got the attention of Kiwis who 10 years ago couldn’t buy the quality of product they saw in Europe.
‘The standards are now on a par, and I think they can only get bigger and better.’
And while Kiwi trade has been very supportive, Kinchley says, key tourism stakeholders, such as tour operators, have gotten on board by offering top experiences for passengers.
‘That is just as important as delivering the product itself.’
The six ships that presently call in on New Zealand under RCL Cruises are: Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas; Azamara Club Cruises’ Azamara Journey and Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Solstice.
– Lisa Bradley

'Walk the talk' with Kiwi tourism

Tuesday, 14 March 2017 15:09

Tourism operators are joining a call for the government to stop talking and start managing (and funding) our tourism resources.
Last week, seasoned tourism consultant Dave Bamford blogged that an overarching sustainable tourism action plan was urgently needed.
‘Three months on from the release of the much awaited McKinsey Report the big questions remain unanswered.
How are we going to fund, and manage, New Zealand’s bourgeoning tourism growth, and manage it in a sustainable way?’
Lots of suggestions and reports were being bandied about, he says.
‘Let’s stop talking and start managing.
‘We need to act now, because some of our most significant tourism “resources”, also some of our most special places such as the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, are being degraded.
‘The required funding initiatives, for DOC and community tourism infrastructure, should be led by government,’ he adds.
Wanaka-based mountaineering guide, Adventure Consultants’ Guy Cotter, agrees. ‘The government has got to show some leadership in managing tourism and use some of the two billion dollars it earns in GST alone from tourism.’
We have no vision, says Garth London, of Taupo’s Whakaipo Lodge. ‘We need to be thinking about what kind of visitor we want in New Zealand. Do we want people in cheap vans parking up where they don’t have to spend any money and leaving their rubbish behind and treating New Zealand like one big party? Because that’s what’s happening.
‘There is a lot of self-interest from major tourism companies, for example in the McKinsey Report that suggested privatisation of Great Walks, and I don’t believe they are thinking long-term, he adds.
‘As an industry we sell New Zealand on our pristine landscape and special wildlife. If we keep driving down the current trail of numbers and dollars without thinking more carefully we are going to destroy the very thing that brings people here.
‘The government gets more than two billion dollars income from tourism. Where do they spend it?’
Bamford says there has been support in principle from all the major political parties for increased funding through direct government allocations and a departure tax. ‘The GST take on tourism should be part of this funding mix.’
– Kathy Ombler

The true cost of the SA visa debacle

Tuesday, 14 March 2017 13:22

The South African visa situation has already caused leading incentive operator Dragonfly Africa to lose a big booking out of the New Zealand market, and the effects are ongoing.

Yolanda Woeke-Jacobs, director sales and marketing with Dragonfly, says the company lost a booking of 400 people through an incentive company in New Zealand because the extra cost and time involved in fronting up at an office for a visa made the trip uneconomic and impractical. The trip was worth about 10 million rand (more than NZ$1million) to the South African economy, not counting airfares.
‘So that is a concrete example that we have already seen.’
The situation has been causing industry angst in New Zealand since it was ruled last year travellers need to visit Wellington to secure visas. Last month, The South African High Commission announced a second centre was opening
in Auckland.
Nonetheless, Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) chief executive officer Andrew Olsen then said the new centre wasn’t enough, and applications need to go online.
And Woeke-Jacobs, at the Destination Marketing Services DMS Connect
roadshow in Auckland yesterday, says damage continues to be done, adding she
found that all of the New Zealand buyers at the event were talking about the visas.
‘Basically South Africa is off the table for New Zealand groups, it is not even being considered. It is very disappointing for us after so many years of investing in this market.’
Woeke-Jacobs says she understands the requirement for visas.‘But make it simple, put it online, don’t make people physically travel to an office to obtain the visa.’

– By Stu Freeman

Group market next big horizon for Hawaii

Friday, 24 February 2017 10:49

Sports groups, incentives and weddings are Hawaii’s next big opportunity out of the New Zealand market, says Darragh Walshe, general manager New Zealand of Hawaii Tourism Oceania.
Walshe says the destination has seen strong growth since Hawaiian Airlines joined Air New Zealand servicing the destination some four years ago. However, the meetings, incentives and sports sector only make up 4% of the business heading to Hawaii out of New Zealand.
‘We’ve really only scratched the surface there and we still see huge potential.’
He says the other area that retains huge potential is travel to the outer islands – beyond the well-known resort area of Waikiki. ‘We had a very small drop in visitors to the outer islands last year and we never like to see that.’
Walshe’s comments came at a function in Auckland last night, with four suppliers from Hawaii ‘stopping’ on their way home from a major incentives and meeting show in Melbourne this week.
The Auckland event attracted a mix of sports tour companies, meeting and incentive organisers and general leisure product managers and agents.
One of the visitors, Randy Parker of the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau, says he is promoting both old favourites and new attractions that appeal to leisure travellers and the business events group market.
‘If you start your day watching the sun rise through the clouds at Haleakala (a mountain which gives its name to Haleakala National Park) how can you not be having a great
day? I promote that to both leisure and group markets.’
He says one of the newer activities on Maui is Zip & Dip. ‘You zip down the line and straight into the water – it’s probably something new that everyone’s got to do.’

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