Stopping Tourism Going to the Dogs

 “Tourism is a major economic driver and has the potential to help get the country through the recession in good shape….Kiwis can play a part in getting people to visit New Zealand…”   John Key, Minister of Tourism

 As Prime Minister Rob Muldoon kept Finance, David Lange chose Education and Helen Clark Arts and Culture. It’s an indication of the importance of tourism to New Zealand and his own priorities that the present Prime Minister is also the Minister of Tourism.

Last month’s Trenz2009 meeting of New Zealand’s tourist industry used hindsight and foresight to spot  tourist trends. 

Delegates were told that in 1950 25 million people took an international holiday (somewhat up on the millions who had had an economy backpackers’ fare a few years before, often one way, courtesy of the Armed Forces).

In 2008 900 million took an international holiday. That is forecast to grow to 1.9 billion people by 2030. New Zealand needs to attract more than its share and the 100% Pure NZ campaign, now into its second decade, has been given a new lease of life-not without controversy.                            

 I had a childhood experience of New Zealand’s early 1950s tourist industry. 

In the early 1950s, only a few tourists ventured to these Shaky Isles. That magnet for intrepid Victorian adventurers, the Pink and White Terraces at Tarawera, had been destroyed by a volcanic explosion in 1896. At the end of 1953, during the Royal Tour, the thermally-induced Tangiwai disaster was a reminder that New Zealand was, indeed a young country, with frequent fiery adolescent skin eruptions to prove it.

I witnessed an explosion of a marital kind involving two touring American honeymooners at Punakaiki.  They were what is known today as free and independent travellers, exploring the South Island in a red sports car. They had stopped at Manderson’s tea rooms, where my mother worked, at the top of the hill, near the track which wound its way down to the Blow Holes and the Pancake Rocks.  

In bad weather this was a dramatic and frightening place. Just a few weeks before we arrived the Manderson’s daughter had fallen into the main blowhole and it took several days to recover the body.

 This day the weather was fine but the American husband stormy. The couple were travelling with two young tan Daschunds called Gin and Tonic who had left recent evidence that they were, indeed, sausage dogs in the sports car. They were thrust into the arms of my bemused mother as a “gift” before the couple sped away.

 Queen Victoria may have been particularly enamoured of the  breed,  perhaps because its German origins matched her own, but mainly because the breed was used for badger baiting and fox and rabbit hunting. Our two new pets proved to be less adept when chasing a Kiwi Possum which unsportingly shinned up a tree.

Daschunds are of only average intelligence but they are brave and will tackle much larger animals. In fact, a 2008 survey rated Dachshunds the most aggressive small dog. However, the breed also has spinal problems, due in part to an extremely long  spinal column and short rib cage.

 Having John Key as Minister of Tourism is a key part of the strategy to stiffen up the spine of the industry and stop it going to the dogs.

 In a more uncertain world some groups hitherto well represented in New Zealand’s visitor numbers are apparently staying closer to home. For example, young Japanese people seem more interested these days in playing Playstations in the comfort of home.

We have to attract the quality visitors who spend the most and impact the least on the country and give them a delightful Kiwi experience.

The new Tourism New Zealand campaign, the Great Kiwi Invite, was launched last Friday at the National party’s annual conference. It invites Kiwi to go to  and flick on a personal animated invitation to friends and relations offshore inviting them come down here for a holiday.  This has drawing power: when the invitation is accepted, the person will go into a draw to win one of 15 trips for two.

The New Zealand campaign, launched on the 10th anniversary of the 100% Pure Campaign targets not just the one million Kiwis who have joined the great Kiwi Diaspora, but their friends and relations. It is rather more inviting than Australia’s less than subtle “Where the bloody hell are you” campaign.

While the website will seed the campaign, social networking sites will help to multiply the message. Rather than the exhausting and exhaustive Kodak Carousel sideshows of yesteryear, travellers can now flick their images onto Flickr. 

We don’t want to bite the hand that feeds us but we do need to lift our game in terms of tourist service. We might even need to, in rugby parlance, inject a bit of mongrel into the tourist campaign, which, like many useful breeds of dogs, does not have to be 100% pure to be effective.

A bit of fun also helps leave dingos in the dust, as these video clips illustrate. But, as the All Blacks know, never underestimate the power of  a dingo to retaliate.


 The Great Kiwi Invite  100% Pure NZ Full 

Where The Bloody Hell Are You? Spoof  Facelift: Where the bloody hell are you?

 Where the bloody hell are you?   Where the bloody hell are you – New Zealand  Australia-invade New Zealand

 Lyall Lukey 7 August 2009


One Response to Stopping Tourism Going to the Dogs

  1. hi there Lyall
    been a while in gestation, but great to see your blog online!! Some provocative thoughts here (what else!) – will add it to my blogroll 🙂

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