*NEW* New Zealanders are opening their hearts and hometowns to the world!

As home to the world’s first tourism board (established back in 1893), New Zealand has a long tradition of pioneering tourism initiatives. The Effective Recovery Recuperation Board of the 1920s and 1930s served as a post-World War I, post-Depression body, specialising in the provision of restorative experiences.

In subsequent years, the task of selling New Zealand to the world as a desirable and welcoming destination for travellers fell to Tourism New Zealand (TNZ). Over the past two decades, TNZ has been extolling the virtues of the nation through the “100% Pure New Zealand” brand platform. Its latest concept flies under the banner “100% Pure Welcome - 100% Pure New Zealand,” and runs on the premise of New Zealanders opening their hearts and hometowns to visitors from around the globe.

The new campaign has the underlying principle of making guests of New Zealand feel so welcome that they form a deep connection with the place, becoming unofficial brand ambassadors.

The Importance Of Branding

Beautiful landscapes, impressive national monuments, world-class cuisine, culture, or any number of other differentiating factors can tip the balance between the choice of destinations, for the prospective traveller. All of these elements combine to make up the image or brand personality of a particular place. And in a highly competitive market that can see revenues from travel and tourism constituting a major proportion of the national economy, it’s important for countries to get their branding right, and to distinguish themselves from other regions.

In the eyes of some observers, there may be little to distinguish between New Zealand and its regional neighbours, notably Australia. Part of the challenge in creating and sustaining a brand image for New Zealand, has been to deal with this mentality - and with the differences in size and resources available to the two nations.

As Tourism New Zealand’s general manager Andrew Waddel explains: “We have a challenger brand mentality here. There are state tourism boards in Australia that have more resources than Tourism New Zealand, so we need to work smarter. We need to ensure that partnerships leverage all combined capabilities.”

Tourism New Zealand general manager of PR and major events Lauren Vosper stresses the importance of getting the evolution of the New Zealand destination brand just right: “Our people and culture are diverse and multifaceted and we need to make sure we capture this authentically and deliver something Kiwis will embrace.”

Tourism New Zealand’s Unique Selling Propositions

Landscapes and environments of intense beauty have long been an established selling point of the Land of the Long White Cloud. From playing host to film crews working on the Lord of the Rings project, TNZ has also done a great job of marketing New Zealand as the home of Middle Earth.

But Tourism New Zealand’s latest campaign draws on something far less tangible – the welcoming nature of its people. “100% Pure Welcome - 100% Pure New Zealand” will, according to Tourism New Zealand chief executive Stephen England-Hall establish a new narrative for the country, and a new approach to storytelling.

“We set out to treat our visitors like whānau [family] which is underpinned by the Māori concept of manaakitanga, creating deep connections between people, extending hospitality, care and respect. Often visitors come to New Zealand for the landscapes, arriving as strangers, but leave as whānau, talking about the warm and welcoming nature of our people.”


(Image source: StopPress.com)

Tourism New Zealand Marketing Strategies

In 2017, Tourism New Zealand released its four year strategy for the financial years between 2018 and 2021. With tourism ranking as the biggest export earner in the country, TNZ’s strategy has a mission to boost New Zealand’s economy by growing the value of its international visitors.

Besides targeting near and long-term value including shoulder season and regional growth, and working with industry to improve experiences for visitors and Kiwis, the strategy also lays emphasis on ways to strategically manage New Zealand’s travel and tourism markets and related sectors.

In broad terms, TNZ is looking to attract visitors to new regions, encouraging them to arrive during off-peak seasons. To this end, Tourism New Zealand will be pursuing regional dispersal through region-specific campaigns, in addition to targeting special interest visitors such as cyclists, golfers, and backpackers who visit more regions.

Inviting Special Interest Travellers

In 2018, Tourism New Zealand appointed the Special Group agency to handle its “100% Pure Welcome - 100% Pure New Zealand” project. Commenting on Special’s appointment, TNZ’s Lauren Vosper says: “New Zealand’s destination brand is incredibly successful, showcasing the country’s landscapes and scenery and has worked because it reinforces the key reasons visitors choose New Zealand. New Zealand’s unique people and culture, our way of being, our warm welcome is what we know stays with people after they have visited. It is what people share and talk about long after they return to their country and is the essence of brand New Zealand. We have started work to evolve the brand to capture this.”

Special Group was the driving force behind Tourism New Zealand’s recent and successful Backpackagram campaign, which aimed to dispel the notion among younger travellers from the UK and Germany that New Zealand was all nice views and quiet strolls.

Special Group assembled three teams of backpackers from the UK and Germany, and issued challenges to them showcasing the most epic, fun and social things to do in New Zealand. The group filmed the excursions, editing the footage and releasing it as an episodic style TV reality show for Instagram, and a mobile first audience.

Special interest sectors, such as backpacking, golf tourism, or cycling tourism are a key priority for Tourism New Zealand. The country can offer a unique holiday experience, particularly for travellers who enjoy cycling, mountain biking, golf, skiing, walking, and hiking. TNZ’s research indicates that visitors who participate in Special Interest activities spend more money and stay longer than average visitors - often having their special interest as the main reason for why they choose a certain type of holiday.

One of Tourism New Zealand’s past successes was “100% Middle Earth,” a campaign drawing on the worldwide popularity of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was filmed at various locations around the country.

According to Tourism New Zealand, 14 percent of international visitors take part in some kind of Middle Earth-related experience. And a standard Google search lists over a dozen tour operators still shepherding visitors to the many film locations spread over both islands. Yet despite this success, some analysts feel that New Zealand isn’t taking full advantage of the Tolkien effect, in marketing the country as a tourist destination.

Film tourism expert Stefan Roesch makes specific reference to the case of Northern Ireland, which has made itself synonymous with the various kingdoms of Westeros since providing landscapes and other locations for the hugely popular television series Game of Thrones. Tourism Ireland estimates that every sixth leisure visitor is attracted to Northern Ireland because of the show. And as a result, the national tourism body has developed a strategy which focuses on film tourism experiences, rather than broad promotional messages.

With an estimated 80 million film location tourists worldwide, there’s a considerable special interest market, looking for unique travel opportunities connected to their favourite movies and television shows. Recently confirmed plans by the Amazon streaming media network for a New Zealand-based Lord of the Rings TV series should provide Tourism New Zealand with an opportunity to capitalise on its appeal - and perhaps rethink its strategy.

Opening Up New Zealand In Practice

As part of its “100% Pure Welcome - 100% Pure New Zealand” campaign, Tourism New Zealand has released a new content series created by the Specail Group agency, called “Good Morning World.” The series hinges on the fact that New Zealand is one of the first places in the world to see the sun each day.

The campaign will feature 365 days of video content and kicks off with a ‘hero’ video highlighting the importance of storytelling to the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand. The video features eight-year-old Parearau and one of her elders, Hinetu, standing together as they witness the beauty of the sunrise from the top of their sacred Maunga [mountain] Hikurangi in Gisborne, as the elder explains how New Zealand is one of the first places on earth to greet the new day.

(Video source: YouTube)

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