Kiran Nambiar has been with Tourism New Zealand for the last seven years, since its inception in India. Currently, he is the Regional Manager of India and South East Asia and during his tenure, tourism to New Zealand from India has grown from 15552 visitors in July 2003 to 27842 visitors in August 2010. Kiran shares with us why New Zealand seems to be the preferred destination for the Indian outbound traveller – be it for lovers of adventure or natural beauty and also for families and honeymooners.
TRENDS IN TOURISM
How has tourism to New Zealand grown during your tenure?
I joined Tourism New Zealand in November 2002 as Country Manager of India and have been the Regional Manager of India and South East Asia since June 2008. Tourism as an industry is fast evolving and today’s traveller is maturing in his travel needs, preferences and decision making patterns. Tourism New Zealand has always focused on reaching out to the Evolved Traveller, someone who is seasoned in his travels and appreciates the subtle differences New Zealand has to offer.
Which are the regions you handle as part of South East Asia and which according to you are the key emerging markets for the future?
As Regional Manager, India and South East Asia for Tourism New Zealand, I am responsible for India, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia markets.
For India, the leisure segment makes up more than half of our overall visitor arrivals into New Zealand, majority of which is contributed by New Delhi & Mumbai. The western region contributes about 40% of the total visitors from India and the North, about 30%. We will continue to develop these markets as our objective is to increase awareness of New Zealand regions within evolved travelers which will result in longer length of stay. Our prime market continues to be the West market, though we see tremendous potential in the South market as evident from the economic progress witnessed in recent times. Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad are the new regions we will focus on developing into our next growth markets.
How has tourism from India to New Zealand grown in 2009-10 and what is the estimated growth you expect in 2010-11?
India is an important market for Tourism New Zealand. Total arrivals from India to New Zealand are +16% for YE August 2010 at 27842 visitors and holiday arrivals are +23% for YE August 2010 at 13096 visitors. India has moved from being the 19th largest visitors market for New Zealand in 2004, to the 10th largest in 2009.
There is a lot of demand in India for travel to New Zealand especially in the months of November to January, being the wedding season and peak period for honeymoon travel. The biggest challenge for growth in this period is lack of air capacity. We are still expecting about 7% to 10% growth for the next 18 months. But India will deliver 20% to 30% growth in visitor arrivals to New Zealand for 4-5 years consecutively once air connectivity improves.
What is the role of the Tourism New Zealand office in India and how do you go about creating awareness of New Zealand amongst members of the travel trade as well as the end consumer?
Tourism New Zealand’s aim in India is to promote the 100% Pure New Zealand experience to the evolved traveller and to raise awareness on the regions and activities that New Zealand has to offer. The Evolved Traveller is a high-end niche traveller who is well travelled, is looking for a unique experience in vacations, loves nature, and consumes many of the products New Zealand has to offer. On the travel trade front, we will continue to engage and develop our relationship with our travel trade partners. Our focus will continue on regular trade education and training programmes like the Kiwi Specialist programme and our biannual trade event Kiwi Link India. For both, existing relationships and new ones that we will develop in new markets, our various trade initiatives including our travel trade website – http://www.newzealand.com/travel/trade/ – will help agents enhance their knowledge of New Zealand and drive back that value to their customers. On the consumer front, we will continue to focus on reaching out to the consumer through an extended PR campaign and internet promotions, highlighting the honeymoon, family and FIT offerings from New Zealand.
How has Bollywood, Hollywood and sporting events played a significant role in creating awareness about New Zealand?
Bollywood and cricket, so far, have played a significant role in creating increasing awareness about New Zealand in India.
The Indian Cricket team’s visit to New Zealand resulted in a 25% increase in April and a 20% increase May. Our peak season, despite the recession, remained profitable. This event presented Tourism New Zealand with multiple platforms to promote the country’s tourism potential, increase our profile as a destination and influence immediate summer holiday decisions for the year.
We carefully touched upon the adventure element (with renowned Indian cricketers performing the Auckland Sky Walk and Film actress Preity Zinta doing the bungy jump, sky dive and jet boat) as well as the leisure element (with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and others fishing on a remote island and other team members sailing in Auckland), keeping in mind our target audience of family groups, young professionals, corporates, sports enthusiasts and the like.
We have seen growth in consumer interest when a movie shot in New Zealand hits the theatres. With the success of ‘I Hate Luv Storys’ in India, Tourism New Zealand is ready to build aspiration and demand for the destination through the visibility that the film generated for New Zealand. The agreement with Dharma Productions also allowed for the presence of 100% Pure New Zealand branding on their website, which drove traffic to http://www.newzealand.com upon being clicked.
PLANNING YOUR HOLIDAY
How long would you recommend a stay for the first-time visitor to New Zealand and what are the places which should be included to get a glimpse of the major highlights of New Zealand?
The average length of stay for Indian holiday makers is about 10 to 12 days, starting with the North Island, covering areas such as Auckland which is an urban and vibrant city, Rotorua which is the hub for geothermal attractions, Wellington – the arts capital of New Zealand, to the English charm of Christchurch, geothermal spa resort town of Hanmer Springs, rare wildlife encounters in Kaikoura, adventure capital and alpine town of Queenstown, glacier region of Franz Josef and Fox Glacier, scenic marvel that is Fiordland in the South Island.
We are also seeing a new trend with visitors staying up to 21 days in New Zealand on self-drive holidays, honeymooners prefer to spend 14 days and cover only the South Island.
What according to you are the must-visit experiences of New Zealand to be included for the following types of interests:
Self-Drive is an excellent offer and definitely makes for one of the most special holidays for honeymooners. Spectacular scenery combined with empty roads and the luxury of exploring New Zealand’s diversity at your own pace and in the company of your loved one, is a sure shot holiday special for honeymooners. Self-Drive is also a very flexible and economical offer for newlyweds. Exclusive accommodation ranging from luxurious lodges to boutique hotels, offer various seclusion options and romantic getaways.
The potential for honeymooners to become closer through amazing experiences is limitless in New Zealand with plenty of romantic activities. Whether it is paragliding across New Zealand’s blue skies, enjoying a panoramic view of New Zealand in a helicopter tour, doing a food and wine trail, bungy jumping, jet boating, white water rafting, canoeing, kayaking with seals, taking a cruise along mystic Milford Sound, whale watching, dreamy gondola rides, indulging in a thermal spa treatment or swimming with dolphins, a New Zealand honeymoon is sure to be etched in anyone’s mind for life!
New Zealand is renowned as the adventure hub of the world. New Zealand offers a unique mix of adventure activities – from high adrenalin to soft adventure. For the adrenalin junkies, bungy jumping, jet boating and sky diving should be on top of the list. Soft adventure enthusiasts must experience zorbing, white water rafting, para gliding, skiing and much more.
New Zealand has a wide variety of wildlife. Wilderness cruises are available in all regions popular for its wildlife and children would simply love swimming with dolphins, whale watching, and befriending fur seals and penguins. Jet boat rides, kayaking, canoeing, hot air balloon rides and hiking are some of the many activities that the family can enjoy together. New Zealand has a sizeable Indian population, so Indian cuisine restaurants are abundant. And of course, shopping is never something a destination can miss out on which is why New Zealand’s cities have plenty of them.
Special Interests such as Wines, Spas and Golfing
New Zealand is famed world over for its new age wines. Napier and Marlborough are the two major wine producing regions in New Zealand and offer unique vineyard experiences.
New Zealand is situated on the famous active volcanic zone geothermal belt known as the ‘Pacific Rim of Fire’ and is ranked among the Top 15 hot spring mineral water sites in the world. Located on the edge of two massive tectonic plates of the Earth’s crust, New Zealand has a large amount of geothermal activity. This means there are many thermal pools throughout the country for the visitor to enjoy after a long hard day! Pools range from small spa-type natural mineral pools to large thermally heated swimming pool complexes.
New Zealand offers great golfing experiences for travellers from around the globe. While Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs are popular world over for their golf experiences, you can also enjoy golf overlooking glacial lakes at Queenstown and Wanaka or in the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua.
What is your opinion on Namaste New Zealand (www.namastenewzealand.com), a dedicated website for the Indian outbound traveller?
Namaste New Zealand is a great website where consumers not only get a chance to know more about New Zealand and the different tourism products that New Zealand has to offer, but also get a chance to share their first hand experiences with other potential travellers.
ONLY IN NEW ZEALAND
Name at least 5 must-do experiences that you would find exclusively in New Zealand.
New Zealand is blessed to have the diverse landscape it is renowned for. Fascinating and exotic, New Zealand is where all the natural attractions of the world seem to converge. While in New Zealand, one must visit Milford Sound in the South Island, considered as the Eighth Wonder of the World, bungy jumping, as it was invented in Queenstown, visit White Island in the North Island, New Zealand’s only active marine volcano, Fox and Franz Josef in the South Island for the unique glacier experience and Rotorua for the cultural Maori experience as well as the geothermal landscape.
Why is New Zealand perceived as one of the best self-drive destinations?
Self-Drive holidays have always been popular with Indian visitors to New Zealand, for not only its sheer ease and convenience but the fact that it is also the best way to explore the country at a leisurely pace. With the Indian license being valid in New Zealand along with other comforts like New Zealanders driving on the left hand side and vehicles being equipped with right hand drive, Self- Driving holidays offer great flexibility in itinerary planning to include activities, sights and attractions perfectly suited to one’s individual tastes and preferences.
VALUE FOR MONEY
The average Indian traveller spends more than the British, French and the German when holidaying. What are the luxury and exclusive tourism products that one can experience in New Zealand?
Compared to other markets, the Indian traveller is more focused on quality than price, so Indians tend to spend more on higher quality accommodation, activities and attractions.
Indians are also known to be some of the biggest spenders in the world and luxury holidays are becoming increasingly popular among Indians. To our advantage, New Zealand has done some pioneering work in this area with luxurious products like luxury lodges, helicopter tours, gourmet alpine picnics, scenic aerial tours, indulgent spa treatments, luxury chauffeur driven tours and other high-end activities that has carved our ‘luxury tourism’ consumer mind space and are of high appeal with our Indian audience. Indians spend an average of NZ$3500 per person on a single trip, which reflects the interest and spending power on such luxury tourism products. Despite the economic crisis, the luxury consumer has not shown hesitation or reluctance with their holiday plans and we expect this growth to sustain at a steady pace.
Moreover, consumer values are changing as the outbound travel market continues to grow. People no longer just want to tick countries off on a list, but they want to go to places for a unique experience. Travellers from India are quite open minded today in craving newer experiences and unconventional travel destinations.