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Talking business

by Anthony Haas


World’s biggest travel agent visits Marlborough

24 September 2008

Key people from the world’s biggest travel agent, the Japan Travel Bureau (JTB), will be visiting Pelorus Sound on 8 October on board Marlborough Travel’s Odyssea

Mr Toru Furasawa from JTB Tokyo head office and Auckland based Mr Tadashi Echikawa, the recently appointed Managing Director of JTB NZ, will be joining other VIPs from the Japan New Zealand Business Council (JNZBC) annual conference in Nelson. During their visit they will be able to experience the waters and wilderness of Pelorus, and tastes of Marlborough products.

The scenery and cuisine of Marlborough will be showcased to attract more visitors from Japan to this place and its neighbourhood. The Pelorus visit is being supported by Marlborough and allied interests coordinated by DecisionMaker Group.

The Ambassador for Marlborough to the Japanese and New Zealand VIPs, nominated by the Marlborough District Council, will be Tim Leslie, former CEO of the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce. He will introduce Marlborough’s key messages.

The members of the JNZBC will be provided with information about and see for themselves the water and wilderness of Pelorus. Such images can appeal to baby boomer and young urbanized Japanese wanting an alternative experience. That’s an image Marlborough Travel reflect for visitors on their Havelock marina based Odyssea vessel, a floating experience from the Greenshell Mussel capital of the world.

The VIPs will taste wines, and be introduced to some labels that capture positive local images and can reach out to more and more Japanese who could enjoy tastes of Wine Marlborough here and there.

The visitors will be given beautifully presented gifts of locally made chocolate. Gift giving and good presentation are important features of Japanese culture.

They will hear of pristine waters, because Japanese consumers will be impressed to know that salmon and other seafood is bred safely here. That’s the message that matters to New Zealand King Salmon.

Greenshell Mussels, from Sanford’s processing operation in Havelock, and the sight of mussel farms in Pelorus will further illustrate options for consumers as well as for business interested in the potential in aquaculture.

The Department of Conservation will assist understanding of our environment, and how we like to conserve and use it.

JTB, representatives of the Tokyo and Auckland offices of the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), of the NZ Overseas Investment office and other VIPs now being invited, will hear of hotel investment needs in Blenheim and Picton.

They will hear a targeted set of messages determined with Destination Marlborough, as it joins others in its region to present the case for influential Japanese to help take Marlborough’s message to the Japanese travel trade, their companies, their connections and clients. The message is that the Marlborough experience is available for more Japanese, old and young. The message is supported locally and nationally by New Zealand tourism leaders.

After the Japanese visitors have come and gone, local interests and their partners can step up efforts to take the Destination Marlborough and Marlborough District Council tour, hotel investment and export messages to Japanese inbound tour operators in Auckland, to potential investors, hotel managements and other markets.

When local interests are left alone to take the case from small and medium enterprises to demanding Japanese marketplaces, they may wilt under the weight. But the gathering on and around the Marlborough Tourism Odyssea from on Pelorus will be progress along the route to a cooperative “NZ Inc” marketing approach.

Relevant decision makers may not yet have decided to join an overtly Destination Marlborough cooperative approach to the Japan option, giving and sharing leads, expertise and connection. But they and other institutions in the Marlborough neighbourhood could develop regional and cross sectoral strategies and projects to share investment in building Japanese markets.

The Progress Marlborough Economic development strategy draft report, now available for public consultation, is a tool relevant local interests can use together.

The strategy, prepared by John Cook and Associates, regional economic development analysts, for Marlborough Regional Development Trust is a blue print for the region’s development over the next decade.

Nelson based John Cook, also a consultant to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, has identified questions to explore with JTB.

Tourism minister Damien O’Connor, who hopes to meet the JTB representatives, aptly says Japan has been a valuable tourism industry partner for many years. “It is vital we work hard to maintain strong links and build on the opportunities through good relationships” he says.

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