Hot Off The Press

WLG in expansion mode

Tuesday, 30 June 2015 13:26

The 34,000 seats that Fiji Airway’s new direct service will bring to Wellington is just part of the growth plan for a bullishly expanding Wellington International Airport, says chief executive, Steve Sanderson.
‘We are currently experiencing a 15% annual increase in volume in seats, and that’s leading us to undertake major expansion. We are investing $250 million over the next five years in terminal expansion and a new, eight-level car park. The terminal is currently being extended 6,000 square metres at the southern end and building of the new car park will commence in September.
‘We are also building a 120 room, four star hotel, with construction due to begin in 2016 and be completed in 2017. The hotel, which will be managed for us by Rydges, will be really pivotal given our client base is spread across central New Zealand. Having airport accommodation will be great, with new services such as Fiji Airways, and new regional services announced by Jetstar and Origin that will pull more people into Wellington.’

Year 2030: Traveller Tribes

Thursday, 25 June 2015 18:59

New research by Amadeus predicts that by 2030 there will be six distinct ‘traveller tribes’ among the world’s 1.8 billion travellers, delegates at the inaugural TRAVELtech New Zealand conference in Auckland heard yesterday.

Two white papers entitled Future Traveller Tribes researched the drivers around travel and the expectations of future travellers. Fergus Park, head of product for Amadeus IT Pacific, told delegates, ‘It is the age of traveller power where travellers are central to everything we do.’

Understanding and meeting the needs of the simplicity searchers, obligation meeters, ethical travellers, culture travellers, social capital seekers and reward indulgers will be key for tomorrow’s travel practitioners.

A rapidly growing middle class who will not insist on managing every detail of their trip will make up the simplicity tribe. They are happy to share personal information to make booking travel simple.

The obligation meeters travel for family gatherings, religion and business travel. They need third parties to help make planning their trip easier and will squeeze in leisure experiences as well.

The ethical traveller has an inherent wish to make ethical decisions, be it political, environmental or social, cutting down on luxuries while leaving core habits and patterns unchanged.

Spontaneity and living like a local is important for culture travellers who will share their details but do not do a lot of pre planning. They enjoy the happy coincidences of missed flights that make travel more challenging, more difficult and more fun.

‘This tribe will provide a challenge and an opportunity,’ says Park.

Social capital seekers ‘travel to be well travelled’ and want to post on social media.

Reward indulgers must have the ultimate experience with butlers, helicopters, and they’ll probably travel solo. They like wellness and medical breaks and are high spenders.

TA boss: 'New Zealand not treated as domestic'

Tuesday, 23 June 2015 14:22

New Zealand continues to be an important international market for Australia and has shown growth yet

again year on year, says John O’Sullivan, managing director of Tourism Australia. O’Sullivan says New Zealand arrivals would be counted in 20/20 target numbers even if it was regarded as a domestic market because ‘both domestic and international figures are taken into account’. However he stressed that ‘we don’t treat New Zealand as a domestic market.’

The latest figures show that New Zealand arrivals have grown 5% year on year, with visitor spend out of this market increasing by 6%.

The New Zealand office is being reduced from five personnel to one in July, with Jenny Aitken, general manager New Zealand remaining. TA’s focus out of New Zealand will be on business events, particularly the incentive market.

‘We will still reach New Zealanders through digital platforms and social media and we still have a great operator in Jenny in market. As we get in and develop the business events strategy we expect an increase in the incentive sector. As that takes hold we will look at increasing resources there.’

He says New Zealanders travel to Australia as ‘specific destination’ journeys. ‘For example, they say ‘I will go to Bondi to meet friends’, or ‘I will go to the Bledisloe Cup’, or ‘I will go to Vivid.’ They know the market extremely well.

‘We think the bigger opportunity is to grow the incentive market out of New Zealand.’

2016 to be Visit Samoa Year

Tuesday, 23 June 2015 13:37

Visit Samoa Year 2016 - the first time the destination has taken such an initiative - will ‘celebrate Samoa becoming a first class destination’, says Samoa Tourism Authority chief executive officer Papali’i Sonja Hunter.

‘Every time we have testimonials from visitors they tell us Samoa is beautiful - it has beautiful people, culture, beaches and landscapes. We have still got all that.

‘But we have designated 2016 to celebrate the opening of first class properties, giving us the additional infrastructure to host visitors, along with the existing hotels and attractions.’

‘Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Resort opened recently and Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel and Bungalows open in in Apia this year. Then the first quarter of 2016 will see the opening of Taumeasina Island Resort, owned by the Lomana Group in Papua New Guinea that also owns Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva and Heritage in the Solomon islands,’ says Hunter.

‘Of course we already have the Tanoa Tusitala, owned by the Reddy Group and other well know hotels and resorts.’

She says the year will also involve tourism excellence awards, helping to ensure that visitors are well looked after.

Visit Samoa Year 2016 was launched at the South Pacific Tourism Exchange (SPTE) in Melbourne late last week, preceding a roadshow in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The New Zealand trade can look forward to a roadshow here later this year to promote Visit Samoa Year, but dates are still to be set.

Hunter says a number of events will be promoted as part of the celebrations, including the 20 year anniversary of the Samoa International Game Fishing Tournament.

Cook Islands video ‘busts some myths’

Tuesday, 23 June 2015 13:31

A video with an amusing take on the destination’s attractions has been launched by Cook Islands Tourism Corporation and is being pushed through social media now.

Delegates at the South Pacific Tourism Exchange (SPTE) in Melbourne late last week got an early glimpse of the ‘Katukanga - Playful Kids’ campaign, which had been released just a few days erlier.

It features two young boys describing the 10 top reasons to visit the Cook Islands and has a star turn from long time Cook Island resident ‘Brian’.

‘We have used the campaign to bust some myths about the Cook Islands,’ says marketing manager Christian Mani. ‘We are addressing topics like the size of the island (Rarotonga), how many things there are to see and do, and the romance market with a different, humorous take on it.’

Mani says the corporation has also launched Kia Orana values - a programme designed at keeping the service and hospitality standards high. ‘We are addressing things like how to greet people - by saying Kia Orana. And we are looking at what happens at customs, because they are the first and last people that international visitors meet.’

Vanuatu campaign aims at couples

Tuesday, 23 June 2015 11:28

Vanuatu will launch a major tactical campaign in New Zealand next month, aimed at the honeymoon and couples market.

Vanuatu Tourism Office general manager Linda Kalpoi says the television, print and digital campaign will target consumers and run through July and August. It is the next phase of the country’s recovery plan after Cyclone Pam.

‘We are targeting the couples market because it suits the accommodation we have available at the moment. All of the smaller, romance resorts are operating.’

Kalpoi says the VTO will then launch a second campaign in October - November focused more on the family market as by then the two currently closed resorts - Holiday Inn and Iririki - will be open or close to it.

‘Taking the booking process into account we think the timing will be right for that. We need to build up the momentum.’

Kalpoi says the destination is already working closely with the travel trade in New Zealand and is grateful for the support already received since the cyclone.

‘We are so happy with the New Zealand market. New Zealand travellers and trade have stuck by us and have been asking us when they can start selling again. New Zealand wholesalers have already been up there to have a look - they were the first ones back.’

Kalpoi was at the South Pacific Tourism Exchange late last week with a strong contingent of Vanuatu product.

Julia King, who handles marketing for inbound tour operator Evergreen Vanuatu, says it is important to get back to trade events and meet wholesalers and product managers face to face.

‘A lot of people have a lot of questions and it is important they get reassurance from the actual Ni-Vans that we are ok.

‘All of our tours are going again - we are still here, we’re still smiling and we are still supplying the hospitality that we are known for.’

King says Evergreen will keep the same programmes it had last year. ‘With the recovery we didn’t think (itinerary) changes would help. This gives us a chance to reflect on our marketing efforts and strategies.’

Jetstar goes regional

Friday, 19 June 2015 12:31

Members of the New Zealand travel and tourism industry are heralding Jetstar’s move to service at least four domestic locations as a ‘game changer’.
From December 2015, Jetstar’s new services are expected to boost domestic and international tourism as well as creating at least 100 jobs for pilots, cabin crew, and ground crew.
Wellington Airport chief executive, Steve Sanderson says ‘the new regional services will bring central New Zealand closer to the rest of the country and the world, and with low cost fares.’
‘The Capital has seen Jetstar grow to 1.25 million seats a year. They have already cut the cost of travel between New Zealand’s main centres and proven themselves as sustainable competitors. The addition of regional services show the demand and confidence in the market and potential for growth is there.’
The Tourism Industry Association New Zealand has also welcomed the announcement; chief executive Chris Roberts says regional air services often encourage international visitors to see more of New Zealand on their trip.
‘These new services will provide a strong regional distribution option for international visitors flying Qantas as well as Emirates, China Eastern, China Southern, American Airlines and their other partners,’ he says.
Regions under consideration to receive Jetstar’s domestic services are Hamilton, Rotorua, New Plymouth, Napier, Palmerston North, Nelson and Invercargill.
Regional fares will  be released for sale in September.

Starwood and Air NZ show the best of Bali

Friday, 19 June 2015 12:10

by Ruth Scott

Starwood Hotel and Resorts, in conjunction with Air New Zealand, have recently hosted a group of Kiwi agents on a famil trip to Bali.

Marieke Mendez, Starwood’s director, global sales, New Zealand says she wanted to show off the Starwood properties and help agents familiarise themselves with the different areas of Bali.

‘Only one agent in the group has been to Bali previously (15 years ago), so the famil was definitely needed’, says Mendez. ‘Most wholesalers are reporting Bali as their number two Asian destination for New Zealanders. They are asked to quote on Thailand and Bali and the final decision depends on the hotels and how good the agent’s knowledge is on each destination. Bali is a still a developing nation and if the consultant hasn’t been there to assure the client, then the other quote wins.’

During the five day famil, the group will stay overnight at Le Meridien Bali Jimbaran; Westin Resort Nusa Dua; Laguna, The Luxury Collection and W Retreat and Spa Bali and visit three other Starwood properties.

Bali VOA – finished

Bali Visa on Arrival for around 20 countries, including New Zealand, has been removed. The US$35 fee was previously charged as visitors entered the arrivals hall at Denpasar Airport, but agents were surprised when officials motioned them on saying ‘no visa required’. The decision has been welcomed by local hotels and tourism operators. Marlies Wilhelmina from Destination Services says this should cut down the processing time at the airport and encourage more Kiwi travellers, especially families, to Bali.

The Starwood and Air New Zealand Bali famil continued with agents exploring the temple at Uluawatu, on the southernmost tip of Bali. Sunset is the most popular time for tourists to visit and many stay on for the one-hour traditional fire dance performed in the 300 seat amphitheatre.

Marieke Mendez, Starwood Hotels & Resorts says the tour to Uluawatu was a good opportunity to see a sacred temple, the stunning coastline, a Balinese sunset and a traditional show all in one spot.

Moving around Nusa Dua, the group spent one night at The Westin Nusa Dua, then moved next door to Laguna, The Luxury Collection.

Both beachfront properties have a distinctive style and appeal to individual tastes. The Westin is a large resort catering to couples, families, multi-generational travellers and conference groups.

Angela Clark, HOT Product says The Westin is spacious enough to ensure that everyone has plenty of personal space. ‘There are families here, but you don’t notice them. There is an awesome Kid’s Club, plus there is so much to do around Nusa Dua that many guests are out and about. The buffet breakfast buffet is amazing, offering an impressive selection of Western dishes, Asian and gluten free and a cool kid’s corner.’

Right next door

Laguna, The Luxury Collection has 287 rooms including 10 new one and two bedroom villas with private pool, outdoor massage table, separate living area and maid/butler quarters.

‘We have a mix of honeymooners, couples and families with older children, but all children can use the Kid’s Club next door at The Westin for a small cost,’ says Andro Pondaag, director of sales – complex, Nusa Dua, Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

Ground floor rooms have access from private balconies to the lagoon pool that wraps around the resort. ‘We have a total of seven pools, including a sandy bottom pool for guests who want to feel the sand between their toes’, says Pondaag.

Both properties have loungers positioned on the beach and around the pools, plus guests can book the cabanas for the day at a nominal fee.

‘Feet in the sand’ dining is available on the beach for lunch and dinner for a table of eight and the property has two restaurants and a deli for light snacks.

Charge back facilities are available between all restaurants at The Westin and Laguna.

All The Luxury Collection properties feature a complimentary butler service, available round the clock, to deliver tea, coffee, unpack/pack the luggage – whatever the guest may need.

Buyers give FTE 'thumbs up'

Friday, 19 June 2015 08:22

Buyers at FTE 2015 have noted exciting new products and developments that range over a selection of markets as a key feature at this year’s expo.

‘Fiji is changing at the same rate that our clients demand,’ says Mary jane Augustine, of Dolphin Destiny California. ‘They are adding yoga and other features that make their trips more meaningful.’

Augustine says Dolphin Destiny Adventures is 80% grow dive travel. ‘But we are looking for new product and diversifying to yoga and spiritual groups and destinational weddings. So we are adding a bunch of new products.’

She says she was impressed with reports that some people may not be aware of - like Mantaray Resort and Viwa.’ 

This year Augustine is at FTE with colleague Danielle Woolery - a first time visitor to Fiji. ‘The people are more genuine and lovely than I could ever have imagined.’

Adelaide based Robert Mackay, managing director of Venture Holidays, says business to Fiji has definitely been increasing year on year. ‘I would say it has been steady rather than dramatic, but any negativity towards the destination has disappeared.’

Mackay says the whole of FTE was well organised and he was particularly impressed with the welcome ceremony and the song ‘Ancient land’, which was written especially for the occasion by local song writer Sailasa Tora.

‘That should be the new theme song for Fiji’s tourism - especially for the next year,’ says Mackay.

Shruti Sawant, of Kuoni Travel (India) says Fiji is becoming increasingly popular with honeymooners and couples celebrating a special occasion. ‘It’s seen as a romantic destination,’ she says.

Anita Gatley, of Wedding Travel in New Zealand;  says she has been talking to suppliers about the Fiji Airways wedding special, which is a great bonus for wedding groups.

‘There is so much potential here for weddings because Fiji can cater for all markets - from the large resorts at Denarau Island to smaller places like Mango Bay Resort. Actually people can pay a lot less than they do in Auckland, have a really nice wedding and have a holiday at the same time.’

Gatley says she has really enjoyed FTE. ‘I have rekindled old connections and made new ones as well.’