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‘We registered exponential growth in the Indian market’

New Zealand does have a very high appeal among the Indian visitors. But we still have to work more to educate the trade on activities, experiences and cultural aspects of New Zealand, says Angela Blair, GM International, Tourism New Zealand, while speaking to Prasenjit Chakraborty.

Q: Tourism New Zealand has completed 20 years in the Indian market. How is the journey?

A famous Bollywood film was shot in New Zealand in the year 2000 and this was followed by a couple of other films. This has helped bring New Zealand into the mainstream from a beautiful scenery and landscape point of view. Taking due cognisance, we opened our office in 2003 and the very next year organized a big trade event dubbed as Kiwi Link which was very successful. From here, there is no looking back, we grow exponentially in the Indian market. We also worked with cricketing personalities of both the countries successfully to consolidate our position further in this market.

Q. What are the two very important lessons you have learnt about India in the last 20 years and how do you want to take it forward?

During the journey we realised that New Zealand does have a very high appeal among the Indian visitors. And as far as preference for New Zealand as a destination among Indian travellers is concerned, it is one of the highest in all our international markets. Having said that, I feel we still have to work more to educate the trade on activities, experiences and cultural aspects of New Zealand. Besides adventure tourism and beautiful landscapes, there is much more to discover.

Q. Post covid where does India stand as your resource market?

India would be in our top 10 markets and we expect more growth from this market. Our top three markets are Australia, China and the US.

We did a fantastic job in this market during the pandemic time. When the entire world was at a standstill at that time our team in India trained more than 10,500 travel agents under our specialist program.

Q. Which segments are you focusing more from India MICE, FIT, Family, Luxury?

We are most excited about independent professionals. But an increasing pool of travellers are interested in travelling to New Zealand in smaller groups. MICE is an important part of our overall strategy followed by luxury and honeymooners. We are also looking for people who want to explore our country a little bit extra and prefer more of a transformative holiday in terms of engaging with our culture and communities.

Q. How has New Zealand as a destination changed or transformed after the pandemic?

One of the largest trends we’re witnessing is a shift away from mass market attractions to those that are smaller, more in-depth, and offer a richer experience. So, if you look at famous Hobbiton, they are actually looking to have smaller groups and allowing them to have richer experiences.

Q. Sustainable travel is also very much in demand, especially with the younger generation. What has New Zealand done in this direction?

We are seeing an increasing number of attractions that are looking to promote sustainability. For example, all operators who offer Kayak and river trips near Nelson are certified from a sustainability point of view. Additionally, we are planning to bring jet boats which are in operation in Queenstown to e-jets. Apart from this, a lot of work on the sustainability front is in progress. There is an organisation called Qualmark which is part of Tourism New Zealand and helps achieve our sustainable goal. We are also seeing a good number of hotels are also increasing their sustainability footprints.

Q. The entire world is looking at the Indian market now. Keeping this in mind, do you have any special strategy for this market?

I don’t think there is any fundamental change in this market and we are leveraging on the points that have worked well for us all these years. We have established an incredibly strong relationship with the travel trade fraternity here in India. They are one of our most engaged trade audiences and we will continue to strengthen the rapport further.

We launched a new campaign in August 2022 titled “If You Seek”, which is a call to all visitors who want to seek more through extraordinary travel experiences. The campaign received a very good response from the India market. We observed that a large section of Indian travellers are looking for more of a transformative experience and we are trying to ensure that their expectations are fulfilled.

Q. Any measures to improve the air connectivity from what it is now?

We are continuing discussions with our airline partners and also with the airlines within the Asia region. However, at the end of it is a commercial decision which is not at our hand. Our role here is to continue to drive the demand which we are doing. Yes, we want to see a direct flight which will be a huge advantage for all of us.


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