The Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Right Honourable John Key MP received a warm Indian welcome from Tourism New Zealand’s brand ambassador, Sidharth Malhotra in New Delhi. The event was also attended by other guests such as Dr Mahesh Sharma, Union Minister of Tourism and Culture; former Blackcaps captain and cricketer Brendon McCullum; the New Zealand High Commissioner to India, HE Grahame Morton; David Craig, general manager, Asia, Tourism New Zealand and Steven Dixon, regional manager, South and South East Asia, Tourism New Zealand.
The event began with a symbolic celebration of Diwali to welcome PM Key who is also New Zealand’s Minister of Tourism.
Figures released in Tourism Satellite Account’s annual data reflect the work the tourism sector and government are doing to boost the value tourism brings to New Zealand. Tourism is vitally important to the New Zealand economy and the growth has seen tourism become New Zealand’s top export earner. International tourism has pumped NZ$ 14.5 billion into the economy and directly employed over 188,000 people and has generated around 6,600 new tourism jobs for the year ending March 2016. One in 13 New Zealanders are now directly employed in the tourism industry and this will increase as visitor numbers continue to grow.
Dixon said, “India is a priority emerging market for New Zealand and we have witnessed significant year on year growth in visitor arrivals. While this growth is really exciting to see, we think the India market has even greater potential. We are investing to maximise the opportunity, which includes growing the Tourism New Zealand team here in India.”
He added, “At the personal and business level, there is also much that India and New Zealand have in common. Our values are similar, as shown by the vibrancy and diversity of our populations. Indians and Kiwis also share a love of sport (particularly cricket) and we both pride ourselves on the quality of our food and on the warm hosting offered to visitors by our friendly people. The two way flow of tourists between our countries is an important form of cultural exchange and demonstrates the interest our people take in each other’s culture. We are seeing a pleasing increase in Indian visitors arriving into New Zealand, but it is important to note that the number of Kiwis choosing to visit India is also growing. In the year to August 2016 almost 55,000 New Zealander’s visited India which is an 18.1 per cent increase on the previous year. I’m hoping that after this visit by Prime Minister Key we will see many more Indians visiting New Zealand.”
McCullum joined PM Key and Malhotra in a candid discussion. They spoke about the commonalities between the two countries; love for movies, culture, food, adventure and sports.
While talking about his experience of being in India, McCullum said, “I have developed a long-lasting bond with the people of India during my visits for various cricket tournaments. Today, in particular, is very special as I had the opportunity to be part of this event with the Prime Minister and Sidharth. I’m really excited about Sidharth’s upcoming visit to New Zealand. I’m looking forward to playing cricket together when he visits.”
Recollecting his trip, Malhotra said, “I was very humbled to be chosen as the Tourism Ambassador for New Zealand. I have countless memories of incredible experiences. New Zealand is a stunning country and a fantastic destination for adventure sports. While in New Zealand, I also enjoyed learning about its fascinating Maori culture. I know New Zealand is a destination every Indian would love to visit.”
When speaking about his second upcoming trip to New Zealand, he added, “I’m leaving for another exploration to New Zealand soon, with plenty new activities planned. I can’t wait for it to begin.”