When Tourism New Zealand identified India as one of the three emerging markets earlier this year, it had announced MICE as one of the key areas of focus. In June, the then Regional Manager- South & South East Asia, Mischa Mannix-Opie had told India Tourism Review that the tourism board will be launching a series of marketing initiatives for the Indian MICE market in 2014 along with more strategic partnerships within the travel trade industry.
As of now, TNZ has already co-hosted two corporate evenings with Cox & Kings in order to promote the country as a major MICE destination among Indian business groups. It has been promoting the country as a convenient and affordable destination for MICE equipped with necessary infrastructure and facilities.
To know more about the initiatives and activities that the board has planned in this direction, we talked to the newly appointed General Manager- Asia, David Craig. Here is an excerpt of the interview:
Please share with us the number of Indians who travel to New Zealand for MICE and how have these figures changed over the years.
Over the year ended August 2014, Tourism New Zealand saw 34,736 arrivals from the Indian market of which 16,320 were holiday arrivals. The year-end total is an increase of 16.3% as compared to the same period of the previous year.
How important is India as a source market for MICE tourism? Please share with us your expectations from the market in the long run.
MICE is a key focus sector for Tourism New Zealand across all our markets, including India, over the next three years. New Zealand is focused on attracting higher-value visitors, and the business events and incentives markets both generate a higher spend per visitor than regular holiday makers.
India is one of the world’s fastest growing economies and we are expecting steady growth in the incentive travel segment from this market in the upcoming years.
The first step is to build awareness of New Zealand as a business events destination, rather than just a great place to have a holiday, and we’re pleased to have really seen this happening across South and South East Asia.
What are your major selling points? Are there specific properties and destinations in New Zealand which exclusively cater to the MICE market?
New Zealand business events go beyond convention.New Zealand not only offers a picturesque backdrop to a business event, but also has state-of-the-art conference facilities across both the North and South Islands. With Indian companies increasingly looking at overseas incentive and team-building destinations, the destination offers an array of very unique activities and experiences that can be customized to fit a group’s budget and objective.
The destination is a great place for MICE travel, and is able to cater to events up to 2,000 people. There are outstanding venues from hotels to purpose-built convention centres spread across both North Island and South Island - all staffed by people who showcase New Zealand’s very warm hospitality. New Zealand caters well for events of up to 2,000 delegates. As well as this, three new convention centres are set to be built before 2018.
Currently, Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua and Wellington in the North Island and Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown in the South Island are preferred by Indian corporates for incentive travel.
Till now you have co-hosted two corporate evenings with Cox & Kings in two major Indian cities. How was the response?
We co-hosted corporate evenings with Cox and Kings in Bangalore and Delhi and have seen a positive response to our offerings from a majority of the corporates. The event was also an opportunity for corporates to understand and get acquainted with the activities that teams can engage in beyond the conference venue during incentive travel in New Zealand.
How do you get your MICE traffic? Is it primarily through the Indian travel trade? What are the initiatives you have undertaken to engage with the Indian travel trade to boost your destination's MICE tourism?
We maintain a strong relationship with the Indian travel trade fraternity. Tourism New Zealand has a number of initiatives to engage with the Indian travel trade, which include marketing campaign partnerships, trade training, familiarization opportunities, and events, such as attendance at SATTE and Tourism New Zealand’s own organized event, Kiwi Link India.
When it comes to connectivity and formalities to travel to New Zealand, how hassle-free is it for groups to travel to the country and between various destinations?
We have various trade and airline partnerships that make New Zealand a more accessible destination for Indian travellers. The campaigns and offers that are a result of these partnerships make New Zealand a hassle free destination for travel.