LOS ANGELES -- After a dismal fourth quarter in 2001, during which
U.S. arrivals to Australia dropped 25% and those to New Zealand
dropped 11.6%, tourism officials in both countries reported better
news so far in 2002.
For Australia, U.S. arrivals were up 7% in January and 2% in
February, according to Michael Londregan, vice president for the
Americas at the Australian Tourist Commission (ATC) here.
Preliminary figures count some 83,200 U.S. arrivals during the
two months. "That's an incredible result for us," Londregan said,
considering that arrivals the year before were "just months after
the [Sydney] Olympics," and "global terrorism issues were not on
"Everybody had the doom and gloom after Sept. 11," said Gregg
Anderson, regional director of Tourism New Zealand here, but U.S.
arrivals to New Zealand were up 38.5% year-over-year in January,
"so despite all the difficulties, people obviously are
February arrivals were up 1.5%, resulting in about 25,000 U.S.
visitors each month, which traditionally are the two largest for
New Zealnd tourism.
"The January figures were a big deal," Anderson said. "A very
significant part of that, however -- at least half of it, if not a
bit more -- was due to changes in cruise scheduling."
Last year, an estimated 900 berths were available across
January, he noted. This year, that figure was closer to 5,500.
About 194,000 U.S. travelers visited New Zealand in 2001,
Anderson said, about the same as the year before. This year, due in
part to the America's Cup yacht race, which runs from October to
February, he said arrivals are expected to exceed 200,000, at least
a 3% hike over last year.
Though falling short of the record 482,000 U.S. arrivals to
Australia in 2000, Londregan said this year's forecast is being
revised to a rosier one, from a 5% to 10% gain over 1999 levels
rather than even with that year.
Travel agent education and specialist programs are central to
both tourist boards' marketing efforts.
The Aussie Specialist program, which was introduced by the ATC
in 1992 and had about 1,200 U.S. members last year, provides
consumers with contact information for the two closest agents via
the Australia.com Web site. Referrals are provided to the
agents at the consumer's request.
"We're in the [annual] renewal process of the program,"
Londregan said. "Around 80% of the members already have rejoined
for this year, and we're predicting we'll carry the same number of
Aussie Specialists as we did last year. "When you consider what has
happened to the agent community, that's a very good result."
Aussie Specialists accounted for 7% of U.S. retail sales, or
$230 million, to Australia last year, an ATC spokeswoman said.
On average, each specialist sends 30 people to Australia per
year, she added, at a vacation dollar value of $3,600, air and
Future development of the program includes a complete transition
of training and continuing education to the Web.
Tourism New Zealand's Kiwi Specialist program, introduced in
2000, is focused on agent education rather than providing leads, in
contrast to the former Preferred Agent Link program it
Agencies that participate in the specialist program are listed
by state on the tourist board's Web site, at www.purenz.com.
"We provide phone numbers, addresses and a bit about them,"
Anderson said. "We found that's a more valuable way for people to
go to them."
That concept carries over to Tourism New Zealand's agent road
show, "Discover New Zealand," which is embarking on its second
"New Zealand is [growing as] an independent travel destination,"
Anderson said, "and it's a complex destination to sell. It's
difficult unless you have a good base of knowledge to string
together a good itinerary.
"So we have been working hard, along with wholesalers in the
market, to make it easier to do that."
Hollywood has done a considerable promotional service for the
country, as well, with the "Lord of the Rings" movie, which
Anderson said has spiked interest in terms of call volume and Web
But it's really New Zealand's people, who U.S. travelers get to
know on farm holidays or bed-and-breakfast stays, that he said
visitors tend to remember.
About 25% to 30% of U.S. visitors return to New Zealand every
two to three years, usually after a brief visit combined with
Australia -- and often with friends, Anderson said.
Meanwhile, the ATC is finding its "2-Week Vacations From Under
$2,000" campaign to be a successful one, in light of strong
arrivals so far this year.
With 60 packages under the campaign, Londregan said, "We're not
saying there's one great deal to Australia -- there are heaps of
great deals to Australia."
Londregan said the gay and youth markets are particularly strong
niches for the country. The Gay Games will be held in Sydney in
As for lift, Qantas reinstated its three weekly flights from New
York to Sydney in February, but Londregan estimated that service by
Qantas, Air New Zealand and United "is probably sitting about 15%
behind where it was at this time last year."
He anticipated a return to last year's levels by October. The
fact that 60% of U.S. arrivals enter or leave New Zealand via
Australia "has caused some problems," Anderson said, "but direct
capacity to and from New Zealand is slightly better this
Air New Zealand, United and Qantas all fly direct, daily service
to Auckland from Los Angeles.
Kiwis kick off second 'Discover' road show
By Paul Felt
LOS ANGELES -- Putting a friendly face to agents' notion of
"kiwis," Tourism New Zealand is embarking on its second "discover
new zealand" road show, which will begin april 8 in Mobile, Ala.,
and head up the east coast to Portland, Maine, by late May.
The eight-week show will conclude June 1 after hitting Montreal
and six cities in Ontario.
About 1,100 agents attended 38 seminars during the first road
show, conducted along the West Coast last June to July.
Seminars will be conducted by representatives from Tourism New
Zealand, Qantas Vacations and Horizon Holidays, who plan to reach
2,000 agents through more than 50 seminars during this year's
The representatives will tour on a 33-foot motor home painted
with images of New Zealand and the logo, "100% Pure NZ."
The road show, said Gregg Anderson, regional director of Tourism
New Zealand here, is the best way to convey to agents what New
Zealanders are like as a people and for tourist board and supplier
workers to learn about the North American travel trade and
"We often get letters here saying what a wonderful time people
had," he said, "and it's usually at [farm stay or
bed-and-breakfast] properties, where people really get to know
"They talk about the warmth and the friendliness of New
Zealanders' personalities, which is difficult to get across because
every place will say they have friendly people," Anderson added.
"What we found on the West Coast last year is that it puts a face
to the destination."
Travel agents interested in attending the road show should
contact Qantas Vacations at (800) 476-3062, or by e-mailing [email protected].