25 September 2015
By Rowan Worner, GM Marketing, Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism
A cluster of six Top of the South regions went to Auckland this week to update inbound tour operators (ITOs) on their broad range of activities and highlights.
After a successful inaugural Top of the South trade event in 2014, Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism joined forces this year with Destination Kaikoura, Hurunui Tourism, Destination Marlborough, Nelson Tasman Tourism and Tourism West Coast in Auckland to promote itineraries around their regions. This culminated in two events targeting different groups of ITOs.
China Market ITO Lunch
The group held a lunch for 34 Chinese ITOs at the Heritage Auckland, with regional presentations and a grand prize draw of two return flights from Christchurch to Guangzhou on the new China Southern service starting in December.
The focus of this work is to achieve greater regional dispersal for the high value Chinese FIT and small group market. During peak periods of the year there are areas of the South Island that become essentially full for international visitors and greater regional dispersal into areas such as the "Top of the South" will help address some of these issues.
Chinese New Zealand media outlet SkyKiwi also covered the event.
Inbound Operator Workshops
The following days the regional representatives were joined by tourism operators to participate in a series of workshops with Auckland-based ITOs who focused on all other markets. In total, 34 ITOs attended with the intention to increase their knowledge of new or updated product and form strong business links. The Canterbury region tourism operators who attended were:
- Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa
- Thrillseekers Adventures
- Hassle-free Tours
- Heritage Hanmer Springs
- Red Bus
- Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
- Whale Watch Kaikoura
- Encounter Kaikoura
- Mt. Beautiful Winery
Christchurch Airport Endorsement
Christchurch Airport sponsored the Top of South events for a second year. Scott Callaway, from Christchurch Airport says the airport is committed to working with all the regions of the South Island under its South project.
“We are very supportive of regions taking that concept further by working together in clusters to feature specific areas, themes or itineraries. Top of the South brings great focus to a part of the South that has excellent product and variety, with plenty of growth potential,” he says.
Top of the South brings great focus to a part of the South that has excellent product and variety, with plenty of growth potential.Scott Callaway, General Manager Trade Development & Marketing, Christchurch Airport
The team effort with regional tourism organisations working together supported by Christchurch Airport made the event a huge success.
Positive Event Feedback
There was extremely positive feedback about both events from ITOs and the operators who attend. Many ITOs commented that it was a refreshing look at an "off the beaten track" itinerary for most markets.
Lisa Bond from Whale Watch Kaikoura was one of the exhibitors at the Trade Day and says the day was a valuable opportunity to showcase not only whale watching and the Kaikoura region, but what the Top of the South as a whole has on offer, from whales to wine, national parks to glaciers, golden sand to hot springs and much more.
“Being able to meet with so many ITOs over the day was very beneficial with great conversation had and a very positive outlook for the summer season ahead,” she says.