Hot Off The Press
Shanghai is gaining recognition as a strong player for New Zealand’s outbound conference and incentive industry with the MICE (Meetings, Incentive, Conference and Events) sector recording the largest year on year growth, according to Helen Wong, marketing representative for Shanghai Municipal Tourism based in Sydney.
‘The MICE market leads the way in figures and with the opening of the world’s largest single block building and exhibition complex at 1.47million square metres, the National Exhibition and Convention Centre (NECC) we hope to grow this business out of New Zealand.
‘Kiwi visitor arrivals into Shanghai reached 32,000 for 2014, a slight increase on previous years,’ says Wong. ‘But with the additional airlift from China Eastern commencing 26 September, combined with the Air New Zealand service, we expect a greater number of leisure travellers to visit Shanghai over the
next 12 months.’
A delegation from Shanghai was in Auckland yesterday for an inaugural roadshow to promote Shanghai. They outlined reasons to visit the city and new developments that are expected over the coming months.
Helen Wong says she will visit New Zealand more frequently in the future as interest in Shanghai grows, but says there are no plans to have a representative based in New Zealand.
Six major hotels, accounting for 3,000 extra hotel rooms, will open in Shanghai early in 2016. A further 2,000 rooms will be available in the later half of 2016 with the opening of four more hotels - Le Meridien Shanghai, W Hotel – The Bund, Bvlgari Hotel and InterContinental Shimao Shanghai Wonderland.
Shanghai Disneyland Resort is on track to open early next year and will feature an ‘East meets West’ approach. The first Disneyland in mainland China, the theme park will feature 12 mosaic murals, each depicting the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac using popular Disney characters and the largest storybook castle in Disney history.
Contiki’s year ahead will be about consolidating and manifesting the ‘eight new travel styles’ concept, as well as introducing more innovations, says global chief executive officer Casper Urhammer.
Speaking from Geneva ahead of a visit to New Zealand in September, Urhammer says Contiki is in a strong position and will be working to make Contiki ‘even more sexy’ for its 18 – 35s demographic.
His comments come as the company records an 8% growth year on year and as it releases its Contiki Europe Preview prices in the New Zealand market (see separate story). ‘We are a large business already, so coming off good numbers, that is an excellent result.
‘Overall we are in a good state. Everyone is talking millennials and we were working with them long before it even got cool. That’s fantastic for us.’
Contiki launched its ‘eight styles’ last year – Discovery plus, High energy, Easy pace, In-depth explorer, Freestyle camping, Sailing & cruise, Festivals & short stays, and Winter & ski.
Urhammer says Europe remains Contiki’s strongest region. ‘Young travellers want to go to Europe and Contiki is synonymous with going to Europe. It is what we are famous for and we’re staying true to that.
‘However we now cover North America, Latin America, Asia, and Australia/New Zealand, so we have global tour programmes.’
Urhammer says the Japan programme introduced last year has exceeded expectations and it will happen again.
‘Can’t lose’ deal for early bookers
Contiki is advising agents that their clients will save 10% off 2015 prices if they book their 2016 Contiki European holiday before 9 September.
Regional director, sales and marketing, Australia and New Zealand, Tony Laskey says the offer is particularly pertinent with the volatile Kiwi dollar. ‘The dollar has dropped dramatically against other currencies in the past few weeks, so the ability to secure 2016 travel at 2015 prices, less 10%, is almost unbelievable,’ he says.
Laskey adds that travellers can’t lose by booking early.
‘If a holiday price goes down with the official 2016 Europe and Britain brochure release, Contiki will refund the difference.’
Contiki CEO Casper Urhammer says the offer is, to a large extent, about rewarding repeat business. ‘A lot of our customers know they are going to do another Contiki trip anyway, so they may as well book early and take advantage of the preview price.’
Clients can secure the preview prices with a $200 deposit before 9 September 2015,with full payment due 17 December 2015.
Contiki CEO: Greece ‘business as usual’
Urhammer says decade long relationships with operators and hotels in Greece is seeing it through what he concedes are ‘challenging’ times in the destination.
‘For us it is business as usual and we remain positive. The general feeling is that travellers are somewhat unaffected.’
He says Contiki is confident in the ground operators and hotels it uses. ‘Some of the partnerships have been maintained since we started and they span generations. When parts of the world go sour Contiki often has lenience because of such relationships.
‘In saying that, we are keeping an eye on the situation. It is so hard to predict and it could drag on for a long time.’
He says overall Contiki is happy to keep taking young travellers there. ‘The sun is still shining, the food is still great, the destination is still beautiful.’
A Victorian roadshow aimed at updating New Zealand travel agents on product from Melbourne and beyond will include a ‘split session’ and dinner in Queenstown on 13 and 14 August.
Joanna Garrie, regional manager New Zealand for Tourism Victoria, says agents will be flown into Queenstown from other parts of the South Island for the event.
‘We will have a half session on Thursday afternoon, then have a trade group dinner that night and do the rest of the session on the Friday morning,’ adds Garrie.
‘As many agents from the South Island would not have had the opportunity to meet all of these Victorian product and regions before, we want to make sure that a decent amount of time is allocated to this workshop.’
She says Tourism Victoria will fully host and cover the cost of agent attendance at the Queenstown event.
The roadshow will visit Auckland, Crowne Plaza Auckland, 10 August (two sessions); Rotorua, Holiday Inn Rotorua, afternoon session 11 August; Wellington, InterContinental Wellington, morning session, 12 August; Queenstown, Crowne Plaza Queenstown, afternoon session, trade dinner and morning session, 13 – 14 August.
Garrie anticipates 25 operators visiting and they will cover Melbourne, regional Victoria and events.
Details of times and venues to be released soon.
Initial enquiries to
A new approach to attracting foreign investment that involves partnering with Australia to create a pipeline of private sector investment opportunities to international investors is ‘long overdue,’ says the chief executive of the Tourism Industry Association, Chris Roberts.
The tourism industry’s Tourism 2025 growth framework aims to almost double the economic contribution of New Zealand’s tourism industry to $41b by 2025 and that will require significant investment in supporting infrastructure, says Roberts who’s organisation has been lobbying for a change of approach by government.
‘There is a lot to be learned from Australia. The Australian trade minister essentially sees himself as a salesman for investment opportunities in Australia. He has details of major projects that are promoted to potential investors around the world.
‘Many of these opportunities involve new tourism infrastructure such as hotels, attractions and theme parks. There is even a government website - www.tourisminvestment.com.au - which currently lists around 40 significant tourism investment opportunities in Australia.’
Roberts agrees with economic development minister Steven Joyce that New Zealand has to do more to encourage investment and is pleased that the Joyce is pulling together various government agencies to work under New Zealand Trade & Enterprise.
‘A more proactive government-led strategy to attract private investment requires no law change, simply a change of attitude,’ he says.
Discussions are underway as to how Qualmark, in particular its environmental component, can be improved to counter the current reliance on forums such as TripAdvisor, TNZ chief executive, Kevin Bowler, told the Great Adventure forum. ‘We think New Zealand is really fortunate to have a single, official, quality assurance programme but is it perfect? No. There are opportunities to make it better. We have been involved in discussions this week about how to improve the enviro mark and give that more emphasis in the marketing we do. You could argue that TripAdvisor is doing a lot of their (Qualmark’s) work, but TripAdvisor is not going to tell you if a business is operating sustainably. So I think there is space for that, and our visitors expect that of us. I think we should aspire to a higher standard than the current enviro mark.’
New Zealand is about to have one of the most heavily-taxed border crossings in the world and it just doesn’t feel right. Recent rhetoric from TIA boss, Chris Roberts, confirms the industry is still smarting following the border levy bombshell delivered by this year’s budget. From January, inbound travellers will each be levied $16 and outbound $6, reportedly to improve protection from imported pests, disease and illegal drugs. Speaking at the Great Adventure conference, for adventure and outdoor tourism leaders in Wellington, Roberts complained that there had been no consultation, the levy was just revenue collection and it would have an impact on visitor arrivals. ‘It will put off Australians in particular from travelling here. You might say it’s only a few dollars per passenger but as a principle it is a pretty big deal. No-one in government is trying to defend it, it’s just a revenue collection so now we’re working on it as much as we can to manage it.’
Strong RSVPs to an &Beyond presentation this evening demonstrate the ongoing interest in Africa as a destination, according to Caroline Clegg of World Journeys.
South African based Norman Harper, the company’s representative for New Zealand, will be at The Northern Club in Auckland talking to both agents and their clients.
‘Agents have not only been keen to learn but also enthusiastic about bringing their clients along so that they can be inspired,’ says Clegg.
She says Harper will be updating people on the overall &Beyond safari experience – from the pre-dawn wake-up with a cup of coffee, through the morning drive, gourmet lunch, relaxing afternoon, late afternoon/evening drive and sundowners, then dinner.
‘These are private game drives, so it is about getting up close to the wildlife with expert trackers and rangers.’
She says a trend towards families and inter-generational groups being on safari is continuing. ‘This is being demonstrated by the many camps that are building purpose-built family suites and tents.’
Harper will be talking about the company’s offerings in Southern and East Africa, including new product such as the &Beyond Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge and the &Beyond Benguerra Island off the coast of Mozambique.
In addition, the World Journeys team will be presenting information about key African elements such as the Blue Train, Victoria Falls and Cape Town.
‘These can be added on to the &Beyond experience.’
World Journeys will not be including airfares to and from New Zealand in journey pricing for 2016.
The new approach of the company is in response to feedback that people prefer to take advantage of airfare deals, use their airpoints with a preferred airline, and often add on flights pre and post tour to visit family or travel further afield, says Caroline Clegg, marketing manager.
In another change, tipping is now included in journey prices.
‘We know that Kiwis hate tipping, so we make it easy by including this in the tour price and the host takes care of it on behalf of the group throughout the journey.’
The company’s Journey 2016 brochure has just been released and has a ‘guaranteed to go’ policy.
‘These journeys depart regardless of minimum numbers, so agents can book their clients with confidence,’ says Clegg. ‘The groups are a maximum of 24 participants, so there is always company if clients want it, but also the opportunity for them to do their own thing from time to time.’
She says each journey features authentic elements to immerse travellers in local culture. ‘For example, clients can visit a local school in Tehran where they see how the children learn. In turn, guests are taught a little Farsi.
‘At the end of our Voyage the Vikings cruise journey we include dinner and a Broadway show in New York, while on the Best of the Med we include a farmhouse picnic in Portofino, up on a hill overlooking the harbour.’
Several journeys have the option of sharing for solo travellers.
‘If clients book at least six months prior to departure we can match them up with another same-gender traveller to share twin, avoiding the single supplement. If we can’t find them someone to share with, they are still guaranteed to travel at the share twin price.’
Clients who book and deposit on any 2016 departure by 30 October 2015 will save $400 per couple (or $200 per person).
If clients have travelled on one of the company’s journeys before, they save an additional $200 per person.
Clegg says the brochure is much larger than in the past. ‘We have dedicated four pages per journey as opposed to two. There is that much interest and we want to provide plenty of information as well as inspiring images.’
She says that as well as new itineraries and destinations, many of the old favourites return.
Among World Journeys’ new destinations is Cuba.
Clegg says Castro’s Cuba is a 15 day tour priced from $5,995 and will include dining at ‘favourite paladares’ (traditional family run restaurants), a visit to the famous Tropicana Nightclub and much more.
Other new tours include a 19 day Ethiopia & Sudan itinerary priced from $11,695, with highlights such as tea with a Nubian family in Old Dongola, visiting a Tej (honey wine) house in Ethiopia, and taking part in an Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
Persia & The Silk Road is another new tour, as is Highlights of South America, which has three departure dates next year.
‘Our 31 day Grand South America tour is a big favourite and we have two departures next year. It is always full. We have decided to add the 20 day highlights of South America, which will suit people who are a bit more time poor but still want a comprehensive visit to the continent.’
Air New Zealand has by far the most visited website in the New Zealand travel sector, with 3,798,542 visits in May 2015. On top of this, Air New Zealand – grabaseat generated 1,365, 650 visits in the same month.
According to figures released at the recent Traveltech NZ conference by Wladamir Chagas, product and insights manager Experian Hitwise Australia New Zealand, this put NZ sites at one and two in commercial aviation in NZ and one and four across all selected categories – airlines, agencies, cruises, and destinations and accommodation.
Number two in all categories was TripAdvisor (NZ), with 1,731,185 visits in the month. Third, just ahead of Air New Zealand – grabaseat, was stuff.co.nz – travel, with 1,157,756 for the month of May. Making up the top 10 were GrabOne Escape, Jetstar, Webjet (NZ), Expedia (NZ) and House of Travel (NZ).
In the cruise sector, P&O Cruises (NZ) was the most visited with 97,855 visits.