2012: A strong foundation in place for future growth

We head into the summer high-season amid a raft of campaign activity and industry engagement.

Last week we completed a series of stakeholder sessions, visiting six cities across New Zealand, to present our initial thinking on Tourism New Zealand's next three-year marketing strategy and our key findings from what you told us in our recent industry survey. It was encouraging to see strong attendance and positive feedback on where we have got to so far with some great questions and robust conversations.

I look forward to sharing the finalised strategy once it is signed off by the Board which is scheduled for May.

It is fair to say this year has seen the completion of some very large projects.

In June we introduced a new campaign to internationally market the business events sector and its ability to exceed expectations, with the launch of Beyond Convention.  Since then four conferences have been won with the support of the Conference Assistance Programme.

We also engaged the influential Youth market with our Stories Beat Stuff activity showing them just how cool a trip to New Zealand can be. The campaign really resonated with the market and saw a wealth of visual material and strong social media platforms developed, with almost one million views of the final wrap-videos.

Throughout the year a range of improvements were made on our consumer site,newzealand.com, with the final changes completed at the end of October. As our primary communication channel, the site supports all our activity to target active considerers, building preference for New Zealand as a holiday destination by connecting potential travellers with travel sellers to convert them to travel.

The important design and usability improvements are the next step in the site's evolution. We are seeing some really positive results - with referrals to New Zealand based operators up 47 per cent against the same period last year (July - November).

In August we launched the latest evolution of our 100% Pure New Zealand campaign -100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand. Developed to leverage the interest New Zealand will attract as a result of The Hobbit Trilogy, the campaign aims to show people that the fantasy of Middle-earth exists as a real place they can visit and experience for themselves.  And it is already wowing the world and winning awards - receiving almost 800,000 views on You Tube and most recently being awarded the 'World's Leading Destination Marketing Campaign' at the World Travel Awards 2012 Grand Finale.

We are very positive about the impact these films will have for the industry following the World Premier in Wellington, and the films initial success at the box-office and among early audiences.

Over the next 18 months 100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand will underpin our campaign work to promote New Zealand as a visitor destination across all our key international markets.  It is already opening doors for us with international travel trade and media keen to engage more with New Zealand.

Our activity for next year is already well underway with a number of campaigns set to be rolled out in the New Year to engage with our target markets and encourage them to book their trip to come to New Zealand. We look forward to working with you to build on the momentum we have begun to see from our recent marketing activity.

Kevin Bowler

Chief Executive