Tuesday, September 02, 2008

New Zealand: Tourism spend queried

4:00AM Monday September 01, 2008
By Tamsyn Parker
Tourism operators are questioning why the Government's marketing arm is spending more on a campaign to target British tourists when it won't put money towards the world's largest tourism trade fair.

Tourism New Zealand recently announced it would spend an extra $2 million on top of the $5.3 million it already spends this year to try and maintain visitor numbers from the UK - New Zealand's second largest tourism market.

But the move has upset the New Zealand German Business Association which this year reached into its own pocket to help New Zealand tourism businesses market themselves and New Zealand at ITB in Germany after Tourism New Zealand pulled out of the trade fair.

Chief executive Monique Surges said Tourism New Zealand's ITB decision had been extremely disappointing and the extra spending in the UK was rubbing salt in raw wounds.

Surges helped New Zealand businesses to maintain a presence at ITB this year although her main role at the association is to help facilitate trade between Germany and New Zealand.

"I can understand them wanting to pull out if there was not much interest but we had visitors 10 deep," she said.

Stuart Neels, head of inbound tour operator ATS Pacific New Zealand - one of the companies which paid to help keep the stall going, said it was difficult to gauge what impact pulling out of the show would have on the number of tourists coming here.

But Tourism New Zealand chief executive George Hickton said it had pulled out of the trade fair because it didn't believe it was value for money.

"We have looked at a number of fairs around the world and have decided they are just basically glorified social occasions."

Instead the money was being used to directly target consumers. He said Tourism New Zealand had committed to going to London's World Trade Mart after talking to the industry as part of a compromise for pulling out of ITB.

Germany is New Zealand's seventh largest market with around 60,000 tourists coming each year.