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New Zealand says thank you to Japan

New Zealand has shown its gratitude to Japan for welcoming thousands of New Zealand rugby fans and the All Blacks by launching a campaign to say a massive thank you to the hosts.

Tourism New Zealand launched the campaign in Japan today alongside the All Blacks and Air New Zealand on behalf of NZ Inc.

“We’re expressing New Zealand’s gratitude to Japan for looking after our team and supporters, and showcasing the warm welcome they can experience in return in New Zealand as a place to visit, study and do business,” says Stephen England-Hall, Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive.

The campaign draws on the similarities between the Japanese concept of omotenashi and the Māori concept of manaakitanga to raise awareness of New Zealand as a destination.

“We have a special relationship with Japan. Our shared love of rugby and the emphasis we place on being hospitable guests create a unique connection between our two countries,” says Stephen.

The gratitude is captured in the campaign’s catchphrase: ‘New Zealand Says 39’. In Japanese culture 39, or san kyu, is a symbol commonly used to say ‘thank you’. It has been used to cut through language barriers and show our respect to the people of Japan and their culture. At today’s launch event the All Blacks wore a special t-shirt with the number 39 on the back.

All Blacks Coach Steve Hansen says of the campaign: “Rugby is a shared passion for both our countries which makes this gesture of gratitude really special for us. It’s an honour to be here and to be able to say thank you to all of Japan. The team and I sincerely want to thank the Japanese people for being such welcoming hosts.”

All Blacks Captain Kieran Read adds: “On behalf of the All Blacks, we want to say ‘domo arigato gozaimasu’ to the people of Japan for looking after us. The team loves coming to Japan, we’re always made to feel welcome, the fans are so passionate, and we love catching up with them. New Zealand loves hosting overseas visitors as well, so we hope that the Japanese people come and visit us in New Zealand.”

Japan is an important visitor market for New Zealand, with nearly 100,000 Japanese visiting the country each year.

“With arrivals from Japan in decline after four years of strong growth, there is a need to revitalise Japanese consumers’ view of New Zealand. This campaign is the perfect opportunity to do just that,” says Stephen.

Throughout September and October an ‘NZ Says 39’ festival pop-up event will take place in Japan to showcase New Zealand culture and product and allow members of the public to interact with All Blacks players.