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Kerry Prendergast: seeing the industry from both sides

A little over nine months ago I was appointed the Chair of Tourism New Zealand. With expertise in governance and relationship management, I have spent the first few months of my tenure engaging with the wider tourism industry. 

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As part owner of a hotel, I have thoroughly enjoyed obtaining a different perspective of the industry's unique challenges and priorities.

I have received clear messages about what is important to tourism operators and what support they look for from Tourism New Zealand. To meet these needs I am committed to reengaging with the industry.

We have already started, with our first strategic update sessions completed alongside RTO's throughout New Zealand before TRENZ.

These sessions gave us a chance to present how the industry and TNZ is performing as well as key components of our FY13 business plan which is currently before the Board for approval.

There is no argument that tourism is a vitally important industry to New Zealand. With $9.7 billion international tourism expenditure it contributes 8.6 per cent to NZ GDP and plays a key role in the economy.

But we face some big challenges and appreciate it has been difficult for many in the industry. We continue to confront economic challenges in Europe and the USA as well as the ongoing effect of the Christchurch earthquake and Japan tsunami. We have the rise of new markets with visitor growth from Asia looking set to out-strip other markets but presenting yield issues with most tending to be short stay visitors.

Furthermore we have some big competitors. Tourism Australia and State Tourism Organisation's present a threat to our ability to attract international visitors, the USA is about to become a much more active marketer and edgy Asian and South American markets challenge New Zealand as a cool place for young people to visit.

However, we have some incredible advantages.

We have a strong brand and campaign that other countries would be envious of. Used for over 12 years, our consistent promotion of 100% Pure New Zealand makes us well understood, recognizable and attractive.

We have a very high level of visitor satisfaction with visitors rating their holiday experience on average 8.9 out of 10. The ability for visitors to share their experience over social media presents a huge new opportunity that we are careful to leverage in our digital marketing activity.

We also provide the stage for great events. The RWC 2011 is a perfect example of what we can deliver and the release of the Hobbit movies later this year provides a fantastic platform to showcase all New Zealand has to offer.

Now in the third and final year of our marketing plan we are looking to develop the next three year plan to maximize these advantages and continue to attract high value visitors to New Zealand.

I am eager to continue to engage with the industry. To ensure our direction continues to help operators make the most of future opportunities we will undertake a similar series of sessions in December to get invaluable input and feedback to our plans before they are finalized.

I look forward to meeting more operators and to learn from their experience later in the year.