The industry finished 2013 on a high, with arrivals' figures for the year ending November up 5.3 per cent on the year before, and holiday arrivals up 9.2 per cent for the same period. Positively, indicative figures for the first weeks of December show this growth continued as the industry headed into the summer season. It was back in 2005 that we last saw this level of much needed growth.
Alongside this busy time of year, Tourism New Zealand's activity is at an all-time high; with the organisation beginning the year with its sights set firmly on continuing the upward trend of visitor arrivals from existing core markets and the newly identified 'emerging markets' of India, Indonesia and Latin America and segments.
Since the increase in Government funding came into effect on 1 July 2013, we have expanded our business events team and our team in India, established offices and teams in Indonesia and Latin America, and formed a new team focussed on the premium visitor segment.
After six months of reorganising and expanding our numbers, the foundations are now well and truly in place for us to focus our attention on building demand and capturing future growth opportunities to secure a strong, long-term position for New Zealand.
At the heart of our marketing activity, our digital channels and consumer website - newzealand.com - continue to effectively drive preference and connect potential travellers to travel sellers. In December there were 1.6 million visits to newzealand.com, up 22 per cent on the year before, while our 100% Pure New Zealand Facebook page reached its first one million fans milestone.
You can be sure that we aren't resting on our laurels as we head into 2014.
Our teams across Asia are busy leveraging the release of the second Hobbit movie across Asia through February and March. They are also preparing for some of our biggest in-market trade engagement events.
More 100% Pure New Zealand campaign activity will be rolled out across all markets in the coming months - tailored market-by-market to maximise the specific triggers that motivate Active Considerers to visit New Zealand. In the US we will launch special interest marketing activity targeting golfers and fly-fishers, and a new youth campaign will launch across the western long-haul markets.
In Australia, our 2014 Ski pre-season campaign, a key piece of activity in this market, will launch during February to drive demand for a winter holiday to New Zealand.
Work to leverage major events, including the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup and FIFA U-20 World Cup, will also be undertaken in earnest to ensure we take the attention they will attract to tell our wider destination New Zealand story.
We look forward to working with you to continue to build on the momentum we saw in 2013. Best wishes for a very successful 2014.