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Monday, 08 June, 2015, 14 : 30 PM [IST]

Exploring Kiwi Land

Coinciding with the ICC Cricket World Cup India vs Ireland match, which took place in Hamilton, Tourism New Zealand hosted 28 people from the Indian travel trade on a VIP FAM trip from March 9-15. The delegates included directors, owners, and senior product managers of travel agencies, who were exposed to new offerings of the destination. Heena Munshaw, Director, Beacon Holidays, who was part of the trip, pens down her experiences in New Zealand
Heena MunshawMy earliest memories of discovering New Zealand go back to the 1990s when I took the first research trip and drove around the country, amid its various landscapes and scenery, and experienced adrenalin-pumping, soft adventure activities.

I have the most vivid memory of myself staring at the awesome glacier with glistening ice blue peaks, on my very first scenic flight from Queenstown. The other memory is of the rugged beauty and contrast of West Coast. The sheer variety of landscape baffled me; to stand on the beach, see the green mountain ranges in the distance, and the snowy peaks behind them, standing tall against the clear blue skies. My good friend, Brendan Davis travelled with me around the country. Each day was a discovery of a picture postcard scenery. I decided that this slice of heaven had to be shared with many more of my countrymen.

I pursued Tourism New Zealand’s Singapore office as well as Air New Zealand way back in 1992, to look at India as a focus market that was nowhere on their ‘to do’ list.

We decided to host a famil (familiarisation trip) with travel writers, which took place in 1994, all through private enterprises. Many articles started surfacing. We conducted seminars on Beacon Holidays Road Show across six cities and launched New Zealand in India as an Outbound Destination. We partnered with Air New Zealand, which offered a fare of Rs 10,000 and we had a package of NZD 300 for five nights for IATA agents to travel and discover the beauty of New Zealand.

New zeland tourismIt was only later that Sarah Meikle started visiting India, and Kiran Nambiar was appointed as Country Manager in 2003. I had the opportunity to brief George Hickton, who was then the CEO of New Zealand Tourism Board, on his first trip to India. I was invited to Queenstown for a tourism seminar to talk about the opportunities of the Indian market and present the nuances of the needs of the Indian market. It was an eye-opener for the RTOs and New Zealand vendors to know what exactly they needed to do to service different market segments out of India.

We had a few opportunities to establish relationships with our business partners, and introduce many aspects of discovering New Zealand to our clients. We offered assistance to group travel agents and opened up the Gujarati segment. We also handled one for the big brands in the early days. We launched the first self-drive brochure in 2008 and started selling Solo New Zealand. This won the Best Brochure Award in Asia. As the market evolved, we introduced luxury lodges and Food and Wine Tourism products of New Zealand.

New Zeland TourismMy experience teaches me that you never stop learning. I appreciate the commitment of Tourism New Zealand, which thoroughly researched the market and established the brand image of New Zealand as an aspirational destination.

I was recently invited on my first famil with Tourism New Zealand, and we had an opportunity to attend the World Cup match in Hamilton, which was the highlight of the trip.

We visited the Hobbiton, and I had the pleasure of chatting with Ian Alexander, the owner of a family farm of 1,250 acres, whose fortunes turned after the place was chosen as the location for the film trilogy. Today, it is a major tourist attraction.

New Zeland TourismWe had fine experiences of dining and wining— from the great New Zealand wine to gourmet fusion delicacies at Curator’s house CHC, The Green Dolphin, Kaikoura, The Marble Point Winery, and Hanmer Springs. The soak at Hanmer Springs was a great experience and is recommended as an ideal stay for honeymooners. Whale-watching was an outstanding experience and the quaint town of Kaikora, with its blue shoreline, is stunning.

It was a great to see Christchurch, the charming city, getting back to its feet following the massive after-effects of the earthquake in 2011. The Re:START Mall is a great initiative for tourists to explore, along with the Quake City nearby.

Destination New Zealand has been innovating, creating new products, and catering to the demands of international visitors, yet maintaining the beauty and serenity that are the core tourist attractions. It is important to understand that, to thoroughly experience a destination’s nuances, we need ample time, even if the country looks tiny on the map. Yes, New Zealand is indeed ‘100% Pure’
 
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