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Courting the world’s elite

With upwards of $100 million in the bank, private planes at the ready, and a desire for life-affirming experiences, the world’s High Net-Worth Individuals are setting their sights on New Zealand.

They’re an elusive – and exclusive – group of travellers who have the ability to travel wherever and whenever they want, and more and more are choosing New Zealand as their retreat of choice.

“Attracting people who have the ability to travel anywhere in the world can be challenging and it is an extremely competitive market. New Zealand has been a secret hideaway for some of the world’s wealthiest and now we have so much more to offer this market with exclusive accommodation and luxury activities. We are somewhat of an R&R bolthole for billionaires,” says Lisa Gardiner, Tourism New Zealand’s Manager Premium and Business Events.

In the year to March 2017, premium market spend recorded by Luxury Lodges of New Zealand over the 2016-17 summer period was up 46% on the previous year.

“We are seeing more premium travellers coming from the US, fuelled by awareness of New Zealand as a luxury destination, new luxury properties entering the accommodation market, and increased air connectivity. The political environment in the US has also played into New Zealand’s appeal with numerous stories overseas identifying New Zealand as ‘safe harbour’ for the world’s billionaires. We saw this trend in the recent Lodge accommodation data with US travellers accounting for half of overall luxury accommodation spend,” says Ms Gardiner.

 “The premium market is very important for New Zealand’s economy and Tourism New Zealand has done a lot of work to foster and develop this market including hosting premium travel sellers to showcase our bespoke and authentic luxury experiences set in stunning natural environments, attending international trade events, and industry partnerships.”

The approach has netted the Tourism New Zealand Premium team accolades, awards and an international reputation. Most recently, Tourism New Zealand was named Virtuoso’s (travel industry’s leading luxury network) ‘Tourism Board of the Year’ (for the third year in a row), and its 2016 US Restaurateur influencer campaign targeting the US luxury market won ‘Best Use of Native Advertising/Sponsored Content’ at the 2017 Content Marketing Awards (the world’s largest and longest running international content marketing awards).

A recent campaign through luxury publications Departures and Centurion, targeting American Express’ 1.43 million high-net wealth individuals who hold Platinum or the invitation-only Centurion American Express cards, led to 80,000 visitor sessions on Tourism New Zealand’s dedicated luxury New Zealand hub, and AMEX reported Centurion and Platinum card spend in New Zealand increased by 14% on 2015-16.

“We will continue to nurture the premium market over the coming year to improve awareness of New Zealand as a luxury destination among High Net-Worth Individuals and their trusted advisors with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of high value visitors to New Zealand.”