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Last week the Southern Lakes region (Destination Queenstown, Lake Wanaka Tourism and Destination Fiordland) was privileged to host Trenz, New Zealand's largest travel trade show, in Queenstown. Trenz provides New Zealand tourism businesses with the opportunity to show travel buyers and media what is new and exciting about our tourism products.
It was the first time the four-day Tourism Industry Association (TIA) event had been held outside Auckland, Rotorua and Christchurch, so it was a huge opportunity for the Southern Lakes region, and Queenstown in particular, to give those attending a taste of the stunning scenery and Kiwi hospitality that makes us so unique and special. It was also an opportunity to make significant changes to the format of the event. Even after the addition of a huge marquee to the Queenstown Events Centre, the layout of Trenz had to be altered to fit a smaller space than it has used in the past to accommodate all the exhibitors. A familiarisation programme was also introduced to give the visiting buyers, media and exhibitors from other parts of the country a chance to experience what the region has to offer.
During the two and a-half days of official business meetings DQ's Trade team met more than 150 high quality, targeted international travel buyers and media from about 30 countries to update them on Queenstown.
The DQ team also spent time with many more delegates during a series of informal networking opportunities.
The familiarisation event on the Tuesday afternoon was a huge success, with 562 of the 900 buyers, exhibitors and media getting out and experiencing everything from four-wheel driving to helicopter flights.
Not only was it a major logistical feat to pull off such a big activity, it was also quite a sight to see the huge convoy of branded vehicles as 40 of Queenstown's operators lined up at the Events Centre to pick up their groups. The media familiarising afternoons on Monday and Wednesday were also a big hit, with international media raving about the scenery and experiences they had.
All in all, it was a phenomenal week which gave Queenstown unprecedented exposure to some of the world's top buyers and travel media. These buyers are from New Zealand's most important visitor markets, both established and emerging, including Australia, China, Japan, the United Kingdom and United States.
We've been absolutely delighted with the feedback we've received, so thank you to all those involved for helping to make this event such a success.
Queenstown operators in particular absolutely excelled themselves, showing that our operations are truly world-class.
TIA is yet to make its decision on where Trenz will be held next year and a number of factors will need to be taken into consideration. Regardless of the venue for Trenz 2012, Queenstown has now demonstrated it can host the event and is, hopefully, in the mix to be considered in the future. The real business benefits to Queenstown of having hosted Trenz 2011 probably won't start to show for another six months, as there are long lead times for international travel buyers to incorporate new products and regions into their programmes and itineraries.
Most of the buyers I met had either never visited Queenstown before or had not been here for a long time - at least a decade. Those that had been before were amazed by the positive developments in the resort since they were last here.
The success of Trenz 2011 has meant that we have created a long-term profile for Queenstown with the world's top travel buyers and media, which will stand us in good stead in the coming months and years.
Looking forward, there are plenty of great opportunities to boost Queenstown's profile, such as the Winter Festival, Winter Games NZ and Rugby World Cup coming up later this year.
Following on from the success of Trenz, we're also delighted to announce another major win for Queenstown with a key date just confirmed for next year's calendar. Queenstown will host Australia and New Zealand's largest education and student travel trade show, the Australia New Zealand Agent Workshop (Anza). The event, to be held at the Queenstown Events Centre from February 29 to March 2 next year will attract about 500 participants from 50 different countries and give us another fantastic opportunity to globally showcase Queenstown, this time as an international education destination.