Interest in New Zealand skyrockets in Japan

Japanese travel agents have become increasingly interested in selling New Zealand as air connectivity between the two countries continues to improve.

The number of Japanese travel agents engaged in Tourism New Zealand’s 100% Pure New Zealand Specialist Programme has more than tripled since improvements were made to the programme in June 2017.

There are now 910 100% Pure New Zealand Specialists in Japan, including 141 Gold Specialists—the highest level of achievement in the programme.

“We’ve been heavily promoting the programme in the Japanese market since its refresh in June last year,” says Tourism New Zealand’s General Manager Asia Gregg Wafelbakker.

“In addition to our regular agent training sessions we held a series of industry seminars in July and August last year in seven different Japanese cities.

“We introduced the programme to over 500 agents in Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima and Fukuoka to coincide with the launch of Air New Zealand’s Haneda to Auckland service.

“Since then we’ve seen interest in the programme skyrocket as New Zealand becomes more and more accessible for Japanese travellers.”

Tourism New Zealand also works closely with the Japan Outbound Tourism Council (JOTC)—a subsidiary organisation of the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA)—which promotes outbound travel from Japan.

The membership consists of key travel companies—including Tourism New Zealand’s tier one and two trade partners— airlines, inbound operators and hoteliers.

Around 400 agents from one of these travel companies, JTB, have joined the programme in recent months, further contributing to its growth.

“Travel agents are the main booking source for travellers in Japan, so ensuring they are well trained on New Zealand as a destination is a priority for us.

“It is extremely pleasing to see that the key players in the Japanese travel industry are eager to learn about and sell more New Zealand holidays,” says Gregg.

The 100% Pure New Zealand Specialist Programme improves travel sellers’ knowledge of New Zealand through a series of training opportunities. As a result, specialists have the knowledge needed to build ‘must do’ holiday itineraries.

The improvements introduced last year included a Gold, Silver and Bronze tier structure for international travel sellers, with different criteria, incentives and benefits for each tier.

One incentive is the opportunity to be selected to travel to New Zealand on a familiarisation trip. Agents need to have completed at least 10 online learning modules to be considered, which in turn increases the number of agents engaged in the programme and learning about New Zealand.