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Reconnecting, in person – flying the Waikato flag in Australia

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Hot on the heels of the wonderful news that New Zealand’s borders will reopen fully from July 31, Hamilton & Waikato Tourism (HWT) has been in Australia to promote the Waikato region as part of our work to attract visitors from this important market.

Being able to get on a plane and travel internationally once again to personally meet up with crucial travel wholesalers and event buyers is an enormously exciting step forward in the recovery of the tourism, hospitality and events related sectors here in the Waikato.

It’s particularly satisfying to be able to do so after the past two-plus years of lockdowns and border closures when, quite frankly, many have wondered just how we would get through the tough times.

Although thanks, to technology, we have been able to continue regular communication with our top travel wholesalers and event buyers. However, connecting in person and having those important face-to-face conversations, is so incredibly powerful and essential in many business settings, especially so in the world of tourism and travel.

HWT undertook two delegation trips in league with Tourism New Zealand and other regional tourism organisations (RTO) and operators from around the country.

Both trips allowed us to put the Waikato directly in front of significant audiences. We were welcomed effusively by our Australian friends who were very pleased to see us again, telling us there was huge demand amongst Australians for New Zealand business events and holidays.   

The first delegation visit was all about promoting the Waikato to the valuable business events and incentive travel market.

In networking events in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane we were able to establish strong connections with qualified buyers, including professional conference organisers, corporates and associations.

The Waikato is so diverse and very well suited for a range of business events including conferences, and for pre and post conference activities. We also have the facilities and the experiences incentive travel buyers seek for their clientele.

Kiwi kai, music and song helped to make each event especially enjoyable – and memorable – for our guests.

HWT joined forces with the rest of the RTO network for a trade delegation visit to Sydney led by Tourism Minister Stuart Nash. In a full day of presentations and appointments HWT undertook 29 one-on-one sessions with key Australian travel trade representatives.

In pre COVID times, the trade event was an annual occurrence providing us with regular opportunities to connect in person with and update our Australian trade sellers.

With our last trade show having been in 2019, we are thrilled to have had the opportunity to meet with these first-rate travel representatives again to showcase the Waikato and help them to create unforgettable holidays in our region for their Australian and global clients. 

Following the Sydney trade show, HWT travelled to the Gold Coast along with our tourism colleagues from the Central North Island Collective – Rotorua, Taupo, Ruapehu, the Coromandel, Hawkes Bay, the Bay of Plenty and Tairāwhiti.      

We met with key travel sellers including ANZCRO, a major wholesale company that has clients spread across Australia, the United Kingdom/Europe, the United States and beyond.

HWT has a long-standing relationship with ANZCRO and spent the day re-introducing the company’s teams, including reservations staff, to the amazing diversity of Waikato experiences and accommodation, along with our combined central North Island region offering.

In the next phase of Australian trade promotion for the Waikato, HWT will shortly team up with Destination Rotorua to present a webinar training session. This will include a virtual familiarisation tour around our regions and a live Q&A.

With Australia, the largest international visitor market for New Zealand – and international visitors being 25 per cent of the Waikato tourism market – we are truly excited to have achieved these first two in-market visits. In a nutshell, they represent a vital step in the return of our tourism and related sectors and in ensuring we get a good share of arrivals this coming spring and summer.

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Nicola Greenwell

Interim General Manager, Hamilton & Waikato Tourism

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