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Talking business

by Anthony Haas


Working with Wellington

March 25, 2009

Positively Wellington Tourism (PWT) expects to increase its significant investment and support in more Australian tourism business development for Marlborough.

Already, free of charge, PWT promotes Marlborough within Wellington's activities in Australia.
The $5 million increased allocations announced in early March by the government and Air New Zealand makes possible more promotion by regional tourism organisations (RTO) to Australians.
Cooperation and competition between Marlborough and Wellington tourism interests has waxed and waned over the years.

PWT, an RTO, already works with Marlborough representatives in the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, a tourism product linking interests from Hawkes Bay to Marlborough, and whose market includes Australians.

The cycle of discussions about this stepped up cooperation between regional tourism organisations and wine product offerings in central New Zealand also gives opportunity to raise other agenda items says PWT CEO David Perks. Mr Perks, previously Copthorne Hotel manager in the Bay of Islands, started as CEO of PWT late last year.

Tracey Johnston, marketing manager of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail and a board member of Destination Marlborough, is involved in those discussions. There are other people with strong current Wellington and Marlborough tourism industry links also interested in a new chapter in what can be done between central New Zealand tourism interests.

The increasingly apparent need to campaign for visitors from Wellington to Marlborough, and now the boost to marketing for Australian urban visitors to and through Wellington, gives fresh opportunities for the centre of New Zealand.

Mr Perks says he needs to know more about the detail to flow from the government and Air New Zealand announcements before answering questions about how Marlborough can expand its slice of the action.

Marlborough’s opportunities can be enhanced by the daily flights by three airlines from three Australian airports to Wellington international airport. Mr Perks envisages some Australians who come to New Zealand for more than a couple of days – which might be spent in Wellington – might plan on visits to Marlborough to and fro on the Interislander.

He sees Marlborough’s wine and food, Sounds’ wilderness and resorts, and Maori cultural attractions as being amongst appealing add ons for Australians who come to Wellington.
The Wellington i-Sites are a point in the tourism distribution chain where Destination Marlborough and tourism product providers can freely provide planned briefings for management and staff, and pay for the display of product brochures to attract visitors who may browse and book through such information centres. PWT also has a marketing manager, Sarah Peacock, focused on Australia, who looks outside as well as inside Wellington for attractions for her target market. She recently brought Australian media to Wine Marlborough – and as there will be more media brought to NZ from Australia, Marlborough should be able to organise more exposure. Yahoo7!'s Travel Editor Lisa Wolff is visiting Marlborough next weekend, courtesy of PWT, one of few RTOs funding its own additional hosting programme for Australian media. On top of this PWT promotes Marlborough within its joint venture campaigns with trade wholesalers such as Blue Holidays. Joint venture campaigns are jointly funded by PWT, Wellington International Airport and the wholesale company, and at times Wellington tourism businesses.

PWT also employs a PR agency to promote Wellington and its neighbouring regions. Marlborough also benefits significantly from this programme as PWT pushes their events and key messages to PWT media contacts as reasons to travel.

Marlborough does not contribute funds to any of the above activities, PWT says. Interislander does invest significantly in PWT’s Australian marketing programme.

Wellington sees the 'bigger picture'- promoting their “combined offer is beneficial for all”. PWT appreciates resources in Marlborough are tight, but it considers it does go well beyond its Wellington mandate to support its neighbours.

Mr Perks says whilst Destination Marlborough and PWT can cooperate to attract more Australian visitors, regional tourism organisations are more competitive in the domestic market. He says the Wellington i-Site is probably not the normal place Wellingtonians who might be attracted to Marlborough would go for brochures and bookings – they might be better attracted through mail drops in affluent suburbs, through community and main Wellington media.

The PWT CEO, like other New Zealand tourism industry analysts speaking out recently in favour of more domestic tourism promotion, is also conscious that local authority funded regional tourism organisations are not flush with funds for promotion.

Tourism minister John Key says forecasts show the extra Australian promotion could net 34,000 extra tourists nationwide, spending more than $60m in NZ during the low season.

Statistics New Zealand figures last week showed total arrivals for February were down 8.5 per cent compared with the same month last year, with all of New Zealand’s key markets declining, except Australia.

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