Bid to lift tourism, cut airfares

CHLOE WINTER
Last updated 15:30 27/01/2014
Tracey Johnston
Chloe Winter

General manager of Destination Marlborough Tracey Johnston and Air New Zealand's regional affairs manager Ian Collier are teaming up to attract more visitors to Marlborough

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Marlborough people can expect cheaper flights if the region can encourage more people to fly into Blenheim.

Air NZ has teamed up with regional tourism organisation Destination Marlborough in an effort to boost the number of passengers using Marlborough Airport, at Woodbourne.

Air New Zealand regional affairs manager Ian Collier said the more people that flew into Marlborough, the cheaper the flights would be.

It all came down to economics, he said.

"If we can drive demand, get into larger aircraft, drive down the cost per seat to deliver the service, then that flows through into lower fares."

The main focus was increasing numbers so that bigger aircraft could be used, he said.

"The perception is that smaller planes cost a lot less to run so therefore they should be cheaper to fly on.

"The reality is the cost per seat in the smaller aircraft outweighs the cost of being able to provide seats on a larger aircraft. The larger the aircraft, the better it is to drive the price of the fares down."

The airline was working closely with Destination Marlborough, he said. "What we need to do is work with Destination Marlborough to give people incentive to fly, not just because of the price to pay but because of the reasons they want to come to Marlborough.

"We are now talking about the events over the next 12 months across Marlborough to see what we can do to help promote those . . . it is looking good for the future."

Mr Collier said Air NZ sponsorship of Nelmac Garden Marlborough had worked well for the company. It was about growing tourism for Marlborough.

"We are always looking at ways to stimulate, drive and grow the region. A lot of that is based on the events calendar," Mr Collier said.

Destination Marlborough general manager Tracy Johnston said they were looking at events that could draw bigger numbers to touch down at Woodbourne.

"Everyone in Marlborough wants bigger planes and cheaper flights but that just can't come.

"It can't come without us building a demand for that service so then Air NZ has a greater customer base which gives them the reason to [lower prices]."

Ms Johnston said most people visited Marlborough for the wine and to visit the Marlborough Sounds. "It is the qualities that attract visitors to Marlborough that also attract people to return to live, to work, to do business and to build new business in our region."

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- The Marlborough Express

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