Oct 8, 2008
The August 2008 Progress Marlborough economic development
strategy draft report has influenced the showcase for Japanese
VIPs onboard Marlborough Travel’s catamaran Odyssea
in Pelorus Sound on 8 October..
This meeting of Marlborough, other New Zealand and Japanese
interests may help build productive relationships. Or it may
prove too difficult, and there may be no follow up interest
on either side.
In due course Marlborough decision makers could step up evaluation
as to how productive it may prove to be to work with Japanese
to attract more tourists from Japan, investment in Blenheim’s
desired new 100 bed hotel and other businesses.
Representatives of Jetro, the Japan External Trade Organisation,
Michitaka Nakatomi and Koji Tauchi are, alongside JTB leaders
and staff of the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce, amongst the VIPs
from the Japan New Zealand Business Council who planned to
travel to the showcasing of Marlborough on Pelorus by local
We may get some indication how far tourism, aviation, aquaculture
and natural products strategies identified for Marlborough
in the Progress Marlborough strategy are worth exploring with
Japanese - and Kiwis who know Japan. Useful impressions may
be gained during the Odyssey cruise and in follow up in Wellington,
Auckland and Tokyo.
Jason Hill, Regional Manager Japan, Tourism New Zealand says
this is an opportunity to showcase New Zealand and Marlborough’s
growing wine tourism industry to VIPs from the largest travel
agency in Japan and Asia, JTB.
“Tourism New Zealand and JTB have a very close working
relationship and we hope that the visit to Marlborough will
deepen their understanding of the quality of our wine and
eco-tourism sectors” says Tokyo based Mr Hill.
In collaboration with Destination Marlborough, Tourism New
Zealand brought a group of Japanese travel agents to the region
in April last year, which resulted in a new tour focusing
on the Nelson Marlborough region being produced this year
“The outlook for arrivals from Japan is not positive
but there is a shift from “see everything” coach
tours, to more independent and sophisticated travel. Marlborough
as a region, with its ever-growing wine and eco-tourism product,
is well placed to capture a slice of this valuable pie”.
“Japan is still a difficult market to crack for new
players in part because of the language barrier, the complex
nature of the distribution system and the time taken to generate
a return. Tourism New Zealand in Japan, backed by Destination
Marlborough and local operator support, is making steady progress
in raising Marlborough’s profile in Japan” says
At an early 2008 Wellington seminar Jetro researcher Ryo Mizuno
pointed out that New Zealand companies could get Jetro Auckland,
including its advisory services, to help Kiwis develop trade
and investment links in Japan.
Mr Mizuno described New Zealand as one of the APEC economies
with abundant natural resources. There are “huge opportunities
for us to strengthen trade relations as well as to enhance
stable supply of natural resources”.
Ryo Mizuno accentuated the value of sister city relationships
and ‘local to local’ cooperation. In the latter
field Jetro sought to “link private companies of both
countries, to enhance our technology levels through cooperation”.
Jetro saw itself as a bridge “between local to local
businesses”. He said Japan’s Regional Industry
Tie-up (RIT) projects can mitigate Japan’s widening
income gap, and ease the impact of ageing and population concentrations
through for example agriculture and tourism.
Recent New Zealand investment efforts supported by Jetro
are in entertainment, software, IT, hotel, advertising, translation
services, and food and beverage including dairy products.
Ryo Mizuno said Japan can import New Zealand’s high
technologies while New Zealand’s investments in Japan
grow. There were exciting opportunities for New Zealand SMEs
“with their cutting edge technologies in biotechnology,
food/beverages, information technology and tourism”
Tourism, aviation, aquaculture and other natural products
are businesses cited in the Progress Marlborough strategy
draft report that could be matched with Japanese - or other
The strategy says the establishment in Blenheim of additional
hotel capacity in the 3-4 star range to complement the Convention
Centre and achieve tourism growth targets should be pursued
as a matter of urgency. The construction of the Marlborough
Convention Centre provides the sector with an opportunity
to expand its seasonal appeal into the shoulder seasons. Increased
hotel accommodation capacity is the key. Arrangements have
been negotiated for a 100 room expansion to the Scenic Circle
hotel property to be completed by 2012.
Progress Marlborough’s strategy includes the development
The Oct 8 Japanese guests will be offered a taste of local
salmon, mussels and chocolate as well as wine and the view.
Tourism New Zealand’s Jason Hill suggests Destination
Marlborough lead follow-up to Auckland based inbound tour
operators such as JTB.
This tour is, in the language of the Japanese visitors, a
sightseeing showcase. If something substantive is to come
out of this visit it may need Marlborough interests to encourage
appropriate Japanese to consider inspection visits, moving
step by step.
New Zealand Trade and Enterprise ceo Tim Gibson says NZTE
has an active relationship with Jetro, and is available to
assist local interests to follow up with it and interests
it may introduce.
Key introductions have been made. The ball is in the court
of Marlborough business and local government interests –
and their stakeholders – to follow up alone or with
neighbours and others.
By Anthony Haas, Publisher and Director, DecisionMaker Group