Archive for the ‘Tourism’ Category

Travel Industry: Better Outcome for Christchurch & Canterbury

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

TRENZ (Tourism Rendezvous New Zealand), having inaugurated its first conference event in 1985, has become the largest international showcase for the New Zealand travel industry. TRENZ typically attracts around 300 travel and tourism buyers from about 30 countries.

Welcome Aboard Christchurch sales and marketing manager Blair Hartland has just returned from this year’s event feeling upbeat about Christchurch and Canterbury.

TRENZ 2014 was held at The Cloud on Auckland’s Queens Wharf.

“An excellent venue,” says Blair. “Including media, attendance hit about 1000. Welcome Aboard had 52 appointments with almost every one very positive.

“Christchurch and Canterbury got an encouraging hearing from agents keen have us back on their itineraries.”

He adds, “We need to be realistic. Christchurch, following the earthquakes, has been lacking the visitor experience. Having said that, our Welcome Aboard attractions are as good as ever.”

Other good points include more hotel rooms becoming available along with other accommodation.

“We are getting the message out that Christchurch is slowly but surely getting back on its feet. A real need is to get more cafes, bars and restaurants close to accommodation. These are cultural things visitors expect in a city.”

He points out that a significant earthquake is considered to be over when the shaking stops.

“The reality is that is where the problems start. We were considered a write-off as a region even though the earthquakes were mostly a city-only problem. Canterbury has remained almost untouched and as majestic as ever. Being one of the best New Zealand regions to visit in terms of diversity has not changed.

“People from Europe don’t distinguish Christchurch from the South Island. To them it is all the same place. And Australia, our best market, was bombarded by the media with earthquake woes.

Blair stresses we are in rebuild mode, even if we think progress is slow.

“This year’s TRENZ was much more positive for our region than the last three. Everyone feels we are getting there. Welcome Aboard attractions are definitely leading the way. People see the heritage Trams plying the streets, the punts on the Avon River, the thriving Botanic Gardens with our Caterpillar Tours. It all looks to be happening in the visitor attraction arena.

“The re-opening of the complete city tram loop and the extension being completed will be a great boon for local tourism. Travel agents tell us they are keen to see the Restaurant Tram back.  That will happen later this year when we have a more viable tram route.

Christchurch Tram No. 11

“At the next TRENZ, in Rotorua, I am keen to tell agents our tramway is not only fully operational but extended through the Re-start Mall and emerging CBD.”

He says TRENZ has been excellent for getting our message out.

“We had a big interest amongst Australian agents. The UK market is returning and the US is stabilising.

“Japan was our second biggest market pre-quakes.  Japan was quick to turn off but JTB and other Japanese companies are becoming involved again. It might take a couple of more years of no problems at this end before the Japanese visitor numbers build significantly.’’

Blair also explains about the impact of emerging travel markets including China, South America (mainly Brazil), Indonesia and India.

To attend TRENZ, tour companies are required to make an application which then goes before a team of experts who decide the outcome.

“We have never been turned down,” Blair says.

Thrillseekers Get It Right

Monday, May 14th, 2012

One of the delightful aspects of getting around the traps is discovering people enjoy working for the Welcome Aboard companies.  I enjoy the buzz of enthusiasm. It’s contagious. Recently I ventured to Thrillseekers Adventures located at the 125-year-old Waiau Ferry Bridge, nine kilometres short of Hanmer Springs Village.  Neil Duncan heads a team of 10 involved in several adventure tourism activities. They all live at nearby Hanmer Springs. Some moved there so they could work at Thrillseekers Adventures.

If his staff is his first pride, his second is his OutdoorsMark certificate acknowledging safe practice at Thrillseekers Adventures. OutdoorsMark is a Government-run organisation doing safety audits throughout New Zealand. “It was quite a rigorous exercise,” Neil tells me. “The OutdoorsMark guys were here for a couple of days checking our systems and talking to staff to ensure everything stacked up. It was a huge achievement for us when we qualified earlier this year.” The certificate is regularly reviewed by OutdoorsMark to ensure operators such as Thrillseekers Adventures are, dare I say, up to the mark.”


Neil Duncan is proud of Thrillseekers Adventures’ OutdoorsMark certification.

Neil puts the success of Thrillseekers Adventures (apart from being a comfortable distance from shaky Christchurch) down to the variety of activities and they do not all provide an adrenalin rush. The Jet Boat trip is one of the longest in New Zealand, skimming 13km down the Waiau River. White Water Rafting is more of a scenic event and Quad Biking offers a fun ride through forest and riverside trails. Staff are multi-tasked. Neil has an additional skill, being a dab hand with the coffee machine. He pours me one of the best long blacks I’ve sipped in a long time.

He chats about the role of Adventure Tourism in the larger tourism picture.

“Many people travel to New Zealand for Adventure Tourism, having a go at things they often do not have the opportunity to do at home. Thrillseekers Adventures sits very well with the mix of activities operating under the Welcome Aboard brand.

And the company is excellent to work for he says. “The culture is do it properly or not at all.”


Neil Duncan, Head of Thrillseekers Adventures

Happy trails!

Bungee or Bungy?

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Adventure tourism has almost the same excitement for the spectator as the participant.  It is especially good for the camera-wielding blog-writing spectator such as myself.  But penning a few words about people who jump off the Waiau Ferry Bridge at Hanmer Springs Attractions, my spell-checker became confused with the spelling of ‘bungy’ – or is it ‘bungee?’

Here’s the rundown.  Both are correct.  But ‘bungy’ is the correct term for Hanmer Springs Attractions.

‘Bungee’ was coined by the English-based Oxford Dangerous Sports Club.  The first bungee jump was made on April 1, 1979 from the impressive 76 m-high Clifton Suspension Bridge spanning Bristol’s Avon Gorge.

Inspired by the event, two Kiwi guys, AJ Hackett and Henry van Asch, created a commercial version of jumping from great heights near Queenstown in 1988.  With help from scientists at the Auckland University, they developed their elastic cord and called their new adrenalin-rush activity, ‘Bungy.’

Against expectations, their new tourist activity caught on and became a draw-card for Adventure Tourism in New Zealand.  Bungy had been put on the world map the previous year when Hackett jumped (illegally) from the Eiffel Tower in Paris.  He was arrested soon after but the event proved to be a very successful publicity stunt.

Hanmer Springs Attractions has a worthy souvenir shop at its headquarters idyllically overlooking the Waiau River and nearby Ferry Bridge.  Hanmer Springs Attraction’s  boss, Neil Duncan, is a dab hand at the coffee machine.  On the counter I spotted short lengths of the 4 cm-thick bungy cord for sale ($4).  Neil tells me elastic cords are retired after 500 jumps and recycled as chopped sections for souvenirs.  My piece of bungy cord certainly makes an excellent curiosity for visitors.