Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development (ATEED) has been named the most innovative tourism board at the Virtuoso Alliance Partner Awards.
ATEED has been a member of the invite-only Virtuoso travel network since 2014. Virtuoso is an experiential, luxury-focused travel organisation providing premium travellers with customised travel experiences.
Based on the latest figures from Statistics New Zealand, Auckland has welcomed more than 262,000 visitors from the US in the year ending June 2017 — up 31.6 per cent on the previous year — and who contributed $480 million to the regional economy.
ATEED’s Brett O’Riley says there has been consistent growth from the Virtuoso market since Auckland’s inclusion as a destination in the network.
“Data from Virtuoso group shows that Auckland transactions in 2016 were valued at more than USD 30.6 million, which was 5 per cent up on 2015, or the equivalent of USD 29.1 million,” he says.
“Virtuoso travellers want unique experiences in everything from food and wine, culture and nature, with a strong focus on sustainable tourism.“
“We’ve been working with the network to develop our Auckland offering and have introduced new products for itineraries to meet these needs. This has included creating an experience where visitors can name and release native birds on islands in the harbours.“
“We’ve also worked with Staples, a tenant from ATEED’s AR/VR Garage to turn this into a virtual reality experience. This, along with an augmented reality experience wine tasting on Waiheke Island, is being shown for the first time at Virtuoso Travel Week.”
The annual Virtuoso Travel Week, attracts more than 4,700 of the world’s top luxury travel advisors, travel providers and luxury and lifestyle media.
This year Auckland was invited to be involved with the opening night of the world’s largest luxury travel event, with supermodel Rachel Hunter talking to attendees about the merits of Auckland as a visitor destination.
This was Rachel’s first appearance in her new role as an international ambassador for Auckland, working in conjunction with ATEED, where she is lending her name and support to the place she calls home.
“I’m a proud Kiwi. Auckland is where I was born and will always be home,” she says.
“It’s a beautiful place. The immediate connection you can have with nature, the city and the diversity of the people makes me proud of who we are as New Zealanders, and this is something I want to share with the world.”
Attracting premium, high-value visitors from the likes of the US and China markets is a key strategic priority for ATEED in delivering on the aspirations of the Auckland Visitor Plan.
“Air connections between Auckland and the US have never been better. We are in a prime position to keep boosting visitor numbers and drive more value. Our membership with Virtuoso has become a valuable platform for ATEED in attracting high-net worth visitors, investor migrants and business people to Auckland,” says O’Riley.
“We are excited to be working with Rachel Hunter to promote Auckland to our third largest visitor market. Rachel is well-known on the international stage for her long modelling career as well her passion for the environment, and from her Los Angeles base is in a prime position to influence the premium US visitor market.
“Rachel’s invitation to appear at Virtuoso Travel Week has provided us with an unparalleled opportunity to showcase Auckland to such an influential group which will then be followed up with networking and the business that takes place on the tradeshow floor throughout the week.”