I recently attended the cocktails jointly hosted by New Zealand Tourism, which has an office in Singapore, and the New Zealand Embassy Manila. It was for us to meet tourism officials, stakeholders, and suppliers who went to Manila for a trade session with their Filipino counterparts. Among those present at the event were His Excellency Ambassador David Strachan and Tourism New Zealand’s Regional Manager in South and Southeast Asia, Mr. Steven Dixon.
I luckily had a chance to have a short chat with Mr. Dixon. He tells me that although the Philippines doesn’t match yet with other Southeast Asia markets like Singapore, their office is positive about boosting Filipino tourist arrivals. Their optimism is fueled by an encouraging result—a record-breaking 17,680 Filipinos visited New Zealand for tourism from January to August 2016, representing a 34% year-on-year increase—and a new direct flight by Philippine Airlines from Manila to Auckland via Cairns.
Among the initiatives they are undertaking to increase Filipino tourist arrivals is the 100% Pure New Zealand Specialist Programme (NZSP), a free training program designed specifically for travel sellers to boost their knowledge of New Zealand and grow sales for kiwi holidays.
In the statement handed to us after the event, Mr. Dixon says, “With its stunning landscapes, incredibly fresh air and wide variety of holiday activities such as visiting film locations, experiencing Maori culture and going on gourmet food tours, New Zealand is proving to be a popular travel destination especially for Filipinos. The availability of activities in close proximity to each other, as well as the different seasonal experiences also set New Zealand apart as a unique destination.”
Talking to the tourism stakeholders and suppliers during the event, I was encouraged to plan my own Kiwi holiday for next year, and I was enticed even more when I found out that New Zealand tourist visas are easy and actually free to apply for.
Photo by Miles Holden, courtesy of Tourism New Zealand.