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USA’s west coast wowed by Maori culture

The popular Tuku Iho exhibition has been a backdrop for training that has seen around 600 travel sellers from America schooled up on New Zealand.

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Tourism New Zealand along with 25 NZ tourism operators held training sessions in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and Dallas.

Tuku Iho opened with a traditional performance on the Santa Monica Pier last week and the exhibit is drawing in the crowds including Kiwi model and presenter Rachel Hunter.

“The travel agent training was held alongside the exhibition which has created a real sense of interest in New Zealand,” says Bjoern Spreitzer General Manager, Americas and Europe.

“It’s fantastic to have the New Zealand industry involved in the training as it gives the US travel sellers an authentic sense of the range of experiences on offer.”

Elements from the Tuku Iho exhibition were incorporated into the training including participants attend the exhibition and enjoy a traditional dance lesson from the talented Tuku Iho performance group.

 “Running the training alongside Tuku Iho has been a smart move, people are leaving the exhibit interested in coming to New Zealand then visiting a travel agent who we have just trained up on what’s on offer.”

Around 28 million Americans are actively considering New Zealand as a holiday destination; it’s a huge market that is well supported by growing air capacity.

America is New Zealand’s third largest international visitor market with 210,000 Americans holidaying in New Zealand in the past year (YE May), a 32 per cent increase on the previous year.

Following Tuku Iho’s success at the world-famous Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC in July, the Venice Beach run is expected to achieve similar record-breaking visitor numbers. More than 250,000 people visited the Smithsonian Museum exhibition, with more than 1 million engaging with Tuku Iho during its time in Washington. Developed by the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, the exhibition showcases around 70 Māori works of art. It includes traditional and contemporary displays of art, live waka building, carving, live ta moko, kapa haka and contemporary performances.