The strong Australian economy, increased air capacity and greater choice of flights for Aussie travellers are all contributors to last year's 4.5 per cent boost in overall arrivals. The challenge for us is to continue this positive trend against a cooling Aussie dollar and increased competition from other destinations such as the USA and Indonesia.
It gave me great pleasure this week to announce the appointment of Tony Saunders to the role of General Manager Australia to lead Tourism New Zealand's response to these challenges.
As our existing Regional Manager Marketing Communications, Tony has led the strategic marketing communications development for a number of highly successful partner campaigns and I am sure he will be a familiar figure to many in the industry.
Tony's knowledge of and experience in Australia, existing relationships with trade partners on both sides of the Tasman, and proven success in working alongside the RTOs made him the perfect person for this role.
He inherits a strong team, a solid track record of success and clear direction of how we plan to continue the growth out of Australia this coming year.
In line with the new funding Tourism New Zealand received in Budget 2013, we have increased our Australian team of specialists, employing new staff dedicated to the growth areas of Business Events and Special Interest travel.
Our 100% Pure New Zealand - Beyond Convention campaign is running in market targeting trans-tasman meetings and incentive travel. Next week the team are pitching the New Zealand message directly to associations, conference organisers and key decision makers when we join forces with Conventions and Incentives New Zealand at AIME 2014 (Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo) in Melbourne.
Of particular focus for the Special Interest team are visitors with a high personal interest in cycling, golf and hiking. Across these sectors we have a range of new activity coming their way with a targeted online campaign set to launch this month, supported by a number of specialist IMP files set to experience our unique offering and share their insights with their readers.
And while on the subject of IMP, 2013 was a stellar year for our public relations efforts across Australia - with the Make History campaign, The Biggest Loser filming in Queenstown and visits by major news networks for the release of the second Hobbit film. Our dedicated PR team will continue their efforts to identify and secure such opportunities this coming year. Just last week, together with Destination Marlborough we brought The Today Show to Blenheim to broadcast the 30th Anniversary of the Marlborough Wine & Food Festival to its 270,000 breakfast time viewers.
Our increased budget has also enabled us to target the fast growing Western Australia holiday market with renewed emphasis. In the coming weeks will be working alongside Air New Zealand to host 10 top Western Australian travel sellers in both the Canterbury and Auckland regions, promoting the direct services from Perth to Auckland and Christchurch. And last weekend the team attended the Australian Holiday and Travel Show in Perth engaging directly with potential holiday makers.
A constant theme across our activity in Australia is that of partnership. We are enjoying great success working alongside our partners in aviation, the trade and with the RTOs - delivering greater impact and a more consistent message to potential travellers. This year we will continue in the same vein - first off will be the 2014 Ski pre-season activity together with The Ski Marketing Network and regional partners.
We are also increasing our focus on trade engagement and seeking to really boost the number of 100% Pure New Zealand Specialists out of the Australian market. This will be greatly assisted by another "mega-famil" which is currently being planned for later this year.
There are also some great events in the calendar that we will be using to push the wider message of a New Zealand holiday - the ANZAC Centenary, AFL match in Wellington and of course, next year's Cricket World Cup.
Needless to say, it is set to be another busy and exciting year of activity, so be sure to visit our corporate website www.tourismnewzealand.com and e-newsletters to keep up to date with the latest activity.