After arriving on Sunday 22 March, the Prime Minister's official visit kicked off on Monday morning when he met Korean President Park Geun-hye for the signing of the Free Trade Agreement between Korea and New Zealand - a significant milestone in the countries' 53 year diplomatic history.
Following this inaugural event, the Prime Minister met with members from Te Papa Club, which is a network of leading figures in Korea's tourism industry. The aim of the meeting was to build New Zealand's profile across Korean tourism providers and discuss future opportunities for the Korean market.
Tourism New Zealand's Regional Manager Japan and Korea, Nick Mudge, says Korea is a key visitor market for New Zealand and holds good potential for growth, particularly for the premium sector.
"Korea is New Zealand's seventh largest market both in terms of annual visitor numbers and total visitor expenditure, with 58,144 visitors spending approximately $145 million in the last 12 months. Tourism New Zealand is working with South Korea's travel trade to grow the value of the Korean market by targeting the high-end luxury market, the independent travel market and the group travel market."
New Zealand's premium offering continued to be the hot topic when the Prime Minister was interviewed by leading Korean lifestyle magazine Noblesse later that day. Established in 1990 and launched in China in 2004, the magazine has an impressive circulation of 72,758 copies per month. The story on New Zealand's bespoke, luxury experiences set amongst spectacular landscapes and scenery will be published in the magazine next month.
"In the year ahead, Tourism New Zealand is planning integrated PR and trade activities that focus on maximising the 100% Pure New Zealand brand positioning and continued investment in joint venture activity with trade and aviation partners," says Nick.
Wednesday will see the Prime Minister in Japan attending a general roundtable discussion with key tourism representatives from the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) at the New Zealand Embassy in Tokyo. Senior Executives from Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Qantas will also take part in the meeting.
The JATA Executive Board is an executive of leading figures from Japan's tourism industry led by Mr Hiromi Tagawa, Chairman of JATA and also Chairman of JTB Corporation. Mr Tagawa has recently returned from Queenstown where he had been invited to play in the Pro-Am golf tournament in Queenstown from 12-15 March as a guest of the New Zealand Government.
Nick says this meeting presents the perfect opportunity to build New Zealand's profile in the Japanese tourism industry and to discover future opportunities and insights for the market.
"Japan is New Zealand's fifth largest market, with 81,712 annual visitors who spent approximately $202 million over the last 12 months. Tourism New Zealand is working with Japan's travel trade to develop greater focus on the senior and youth travel segments.
"Recently Tourism New Zealand partnered with Air New Zealand on a successful campaign targeting the autumn travel season in New Zealand, with over 5,000 new bookings to New Zealand in the crucial post-summer travel period. In the year ahead, we are planning integrated campaign, PR and trade activities that focus on maximising the 100% Pure New Zealand brand positioning, and continued investment in joint venture activity with trade and aviation partners."
Air New Zealand currently operates year-round daily services to New Zealand from Japan, which increase to 10 services per week in peak-season, while Singapore Airlines operate daily one-stop services to New Zealand from Japan via Singapore. Qantas has recently announced a doubling of capacity from Japan to Australia from August 2015.