East Coast travel sellers set to pitch New Zealand

The Tuku Iho exhibition in Washington DC has been a backdrop for training that has seen over 500 travel sellers from America’s East Coast schooled up on New Zealand.

“The training took place alongside the popular exhibition and leveraged the sense of excitement that it created about New Zealand” says Bjoern Spreitzer General Manager, Americas and Europe.

Developed by the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, the exhibition showcases around 80 Māori works of art. It includes traditional and contemporary displays of art, live waka building, carving, live ta moko, kapa haka and contemporary performances.

"We incorporated elements from the exhibition in into the training including participants attend the exhibition and enjoy a traditional dance lesson from the talented Tuku Iho performance group”

The exhibition has seen thousands of people walk through the doors since opening late July and included a haka performance on the steps of the Lincoln memorial attracting a huge crowd with thousands more viewing online.

“It’s a fantastic backdrop to work from because there are 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 for us to further tap into that is well supported by growing air capacity.”

Around 20 representatives from the New Zealand industry took part in the training and gave the US travel sellers a real sense of the range of experiences on offer and how easy it is to get to and around the country. Training was held in Washington DC, New York, Boston and Philadelphia.

Gisela Purcell, International Marketing Manager, Nelson Regional Development Agency said "The event created lots of opportunities for us to capitalise on and I’m so glad that we were able to be involved. I’ve shared the video with some local tourism operators and it’s a great example of the work going on to showcase the region.  There are real advantages in being involved with something bigger than our own marketing would ever allow, which our operators fit into, support and will benefit from it.”

Another major training event targeting travel sellers from the West Coast will take place in October.

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.