17 Mar 2009

Drive begins to attract more Australian tourists

6:10 pm on 17 March 2009

A major drive is under way to attract thousands more Australian tourists to New Zealand.

The Government is putting an extra $2.5 million into tourism promotion in Australia, while Air New Zealand is matching that spending with a new campaign.

Australia is New Zealand's biggest visitor market and biggest growth market, with almost 1 million visitors crossing the Tasman a year.

The money from the Government will go to Tourism New Zealand; $1.4 million is new funding and $1.1 million comes from the Ministry of Tourism's budget.

Prime Minister John Key expects it to result in about 34,000 additional tourists a year - generating a potential $64 million in revenue.

Mr Key says the global recession is likely to result in New Zealand becoming a more attractive option as Australian consumers reduce spending by holidaying closer to home.

The campaign will run during the autumn and winter period.

Air New Zealand welcomes the funding announcement, saying it is working on a fresh marketing campaign that will see more than $2 million in free domestic travel given when trans-Tasman fares are booked in Australia.

The national carrier is also offering up to 100 free return airfares to regional tourism organisations to attract Australian media.

Group general manager of short haul airlines, Bruce Parton, says Australians are still showing a willingness to travel and encouraging them to New Zealand's regions will help the economy.

The Tourism Industry Association says the Government's package will provide a boost to operators facing an uncertain future.

Chief executive Tim Cossar says the funding is a great result for every region in the country.

Many New Zealand tourism operators and organisations are doing significant marketing and the new funding will support their efforts, he says.