Selling the mighty Waikato to the world


Following a successful peak tourism summer season, Hamilton & Waikato Tourism and our operators are now in the thick of the ‘trade season’ – when we actively market the mighty Waikato to the world.

‘Trade season’ refers to the time of year when we market and sell our region, products, services and new visitor experiences to the travel trade – wholesalers, inbound tour operators, travel agents and online retailers. The travel trade plays a significant role in attracting international visitors to New Zealand and the Waikato region by encouraging travellers to spend more time exploring what we have to offer.

While independent travelers are increasingly organising and planning their own trips directly online, the travel trade remains effective in reaching larger numbers of potential international visitors, particularly in our long-haul markets such as Europe, United States, Canada, China, Japan and South America, plus our number one visitor market, Australia.  By establishing effective relationships with key operators and agencies, and engaging a mix of distribution partners, we help our region and tourism operators find an effective channel to market and reach our target consumers

We have recently taken a number of our region’s new and existing tour operators to two key events – the eXplore trade show in Auckland and TRENZ (Tourism Rendezvous New Zealand) in Dunedin.

The eXplore show is a key trade event for NZ-based inbound tour operators, wholesalers and travel agents where more than 100 tourism products from across the Central North Island were showcased.

The Waikato region had our biggest contingent ever at the show, with 18 operators exhibiting, including Hobbiton Movie Set, Discover Waitomo, Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari, Waitomo Adventures, Lake District Adventures, Pa Harakeke, Hamilton Gardens, Novotel Tainui Hamilton, Helicorp, Roselands Waitomo and Castaways Resort.

New products launched included three new tours from Waikato Museum, Waitomo Adventures’ Troll Cave experience, group dining and farm tours with The Red Barn at Hinuera, new accommodation at Lakeview Lodge Karapiro, hiking and food tour company ‘Nature & Nosh’, scenic flights from Waikato Aviation, skydiving at Mercer Airport, glamping accommodation at Soft Leaf in Mercer, and special interest tours from NZ Pure Tour.

This show is a key activity of eXplore Central North Island (ECNI) which is a marketing collective of eight regions including The Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Tairawhiti-Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Ruapehu, Great Lake Taupo, Rotorua, and Hamilton and Waikato. We work together to actively promote our regions and experiences to international tourism trade – a strong force which positions the best of the North Island.

Hamilton Waikato Tourism

The Hamilton & Waikato Tourism stand at New Zealand’s largest tourism showcase TRENZ.

TRENZ is New Zealand’s largest tourism showcase and international travel expo, and Hamilton and the Waikato region stood out at this year’s event for many reasons.

Over three days, the expo attracted 387 buyers from 27 markets, which ranged from traditional visitor markets like Australia, the USA, UK and Japan to newer, emerging visitor markets, such as Brazil and the Philippines. More than 16,500 15-minute meetings were held with tourism operators and regional tourism agencies, including our organisation alongside eight Waikato businesses.

We exhibited for a second year in our purpose-built regional stand which attracted a lot of positive comments, photos and visits outside the scheduled appointments. Operators in attendance included Hobbiton Movie Set, Discover Waitomo’s Black Water Rafting and Glowworm Caves, Waitomo Adventures, Roselands Waitomo, Rural Tours, Hamilton Gardens, Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari, and our newest luxury accommodation, The Henley Hotel, located between Cambridge and Karapiro.

Feedback from the travel trade continues to be positive about Waikato as they are excited about the new products and visitor experiences emerging across our region. The mighty Waikato provides a refreshing change from the well-worn traveler route, as they seek out more authentic and ‘real New Zealand’ experiences. Our region is well positioned to take advantage of this growing popularity as a ‘must-visit’ destination on traveler itineraries as we work hard to capture more of the tourism dollar.

Hamilton & Waikato Tourism is the regional tourism organisation charged with increasing international and domestic visitor numbers, expenditure and stay. The organisation is funded through a public/private partnership and covers the heartland Waikato areas of Hamilton City, Matamata-Piako, Otorohanga, South Waikato, Waipa, South Waikato and Waitomo Districts. Find out more: www.hamiltonwaikato.com


About Author

Jason Dawson

Chief Executive, Hamilton & Waikato Tourism