Sudipta Dev – Mumbai
Kiwi Link India 2014, the annual travel trade mission of Tourism New Zealand was organised in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai recently. The event this year attracted 500 delegates. “Kiwi Link this year is bigger and we hope it is better. The feedback has been really positive. We are spreading out of the big metro centres that we focused on before, with Chennai and Hyderabad there has been a geographical expansion. There are 33 New Zealand suppliers, which is a step up from last year,” said David Craig, general manager Asia, Tourism New Zealand.
Tourism New Zealand has aggressive growth expectations from the Indian market. “We have increased our investment and have a team in place here. The visitor number has increased by 13 per cent, it is now 34,000. The last quarter the growth rate was somewhere between 20 to 30 per cent so I expect high double digit growth in the next few years,” mentioned Craig.
There are currently 76 certified 100 per cent Pure New Zealand specialists in India. Pointing out that face to face contact and building relationships with the trade is critical to selling, Craig stated, “We organise Kiwi Link worldwide and recognise the importance of relationship in travel business. The market is changing so it is important to check and understand the demands, and for the Indian trade to understand the new products and itineraries.”
A major segment from the Indian market are young adventurers who are under 30 and unencumbered by responsibilities, the family groups are also growing. “One of the most interesting things for us has been the transformation from spectators to participants, particularly in the adventure space. I do not think five or 10 years ago, any of these operators would have associated the Indian market with adventure. Today this market is an important group for them,” said Craig.
Some of the popular activities are – sky diving, wine exploration/ trails, self drives particularly among honeymooners and young adventurers. The Hobbiton movie set is being promoted in India.
In terms of luxury hospitality, Tourism New Zealand works with Luxury Lodges. “They have a lot of properties around the country. We have a lot of travel agents who have educated themselves on that front. These lodges are high end. There are also many quaint lodges that are popular,” stated Craig. He also sees a lot of potential in the MICE segment. There are new projects coming up in next two to three years which can accommodate large MICE groups.