Kiwi invasion planned by tourism

START cooking the fush ‘n’ chups and join the All Blacks’ fan club, because the Northern Rivers could be overrun by Kiwis in a few months.

That’s if Russell Mills gets his way.

The chief executive of Northern Rivers Tourism promoted the region at the OzTalk 2010 trade and consumer show in Auckland recently.

Mr Mills spoke to more than 150 travel agents, as well as countless potential tourists.

“It’s like speed dating for the tourism industry,” he said.

“You get six-and-a-half minutes to talk about your destination to travel agents from all over New Zealand.

“So hopefully, in a few months we will have Kiwis everywhere.

“That’s the aim of the whole thing.”

New Zealanders represent one of the Northern Rivers’ most important international markets, but Mr Mills said it was a market which had been declining.

In the year ending September last year, more than 16,800 Kiwis visited the region, compared to 25,446 from Germany and 18,630 people from America.

“Over the past 18 months or so we’ve seen a bit of a slide in the numbers coming from New Zealand,” Mr Mills said.

“Going to trade shows and events like OzTalk is about keeping the Northern Rivers front-of-mind.”

Using the new ‘Byron Bay and beyond’ campaign, Mr Mills said the two-day event had been good exposure for the region.

“As a destination, we’ve got lots of opportunities for Kiwi visitors,” he said.

“The air capacity coming into Gold Coast is at an all-time high – it’s never been cheaper.

“Tickets from New Zealand to the Gold Coast are going for $300 return.

“And then we’re only 45 minutes down the road, so access to this region is great.”

Mr Mills said the Northern Rivers could become an alternative destination to the Gold Coast for Kiwi tourists.

“If they’ve been there (to the Gold Coast), they’ve been to the theme parks, the casinos and seen the high-rises,” he said. “Our destination is a refreshing alternative.

“You can appreciate nature and it’s very laidback.

“It’s a chilled out place for a holiday for a couple or a family – we’re different.

“We will continue to push our region to the Kiwis.”

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