Travel agents try out the goods
Nine travel consultants from around the South Island have just had a week enjoying the best of Tasman.
The group were guests of the Motueka i-SITE, which arranged the trip for staff from i-SITEs that send the most customers to Motueka - Nelson, Murchison, Paparoa, Hokitika, Hanmer and Kaikoura.
Known as a "famil" because the point is to familiarise travel consultants with the attractions and accommodation they will be telling tourists about, the trip began with a speed-dating style meet and greet with tourism operators on Sunday night and ended with lunch at Riverside Cafe on Thursday. In between the group spent two days in the Abel Tasman National Park on everything from kayaks to water taxis to a luxury catamaran, visited tourism operators at the Motueka Aerodrome and toured Mapua, the Moutere, the Ruby Coast and Takaka Hill.
It was an especially exciting trip for Temiko Jager from Paparoa/Punakaiki, who had only just started work and won a lucky draw to be a stunt pilot with U-Fly Extreme. Her second day in the "office" saw her painting the sky above Motueka in a Pitt Special biplane.
"It was the most incredible experience I've ever had. I would recommend it to anyone," she said.
That is the kind of reaction the tourism operators who donated trips were looking for.
"The word of mouth and personal reaction is the biggest thing for us promotion-wise," said U-Fly Extreme owner/operator Alison D'Ath. She explained that because the operation was unique in New Zealand, it was important that frontline travel staff knew exactly what they offered.
"Everyone knows what a skydive is, everyone knows what a bungy jump is," she said.
The tour's organiser, Motueka i-SITE manager Lois Walker, said the "measure of its success will be the contact these consultants will have with our operators throughout the coming months and proof of extra bed nights booked in the area to enable people to fit it all in".
The i-SITE staff said they went away with a much better idea of how much there was to do in the region and that not only would they be urging people to plan more nights in the region, they would even bring their own families up for a holiday.
Some of the other highlights they mentioned were the Kina Cliffs golf course, Woollaston Estates winery and Jester House's The Boot accommodation.
"We have met so many amazing tour guides and truly passionate warm people who love their product," Debs Wakefield from Hanmer said.
The famil trip was last offered two years ago, alternating with a similar trip focused on the Nelson Tasman region run by the Nelson i-SITE.
- © Fairfax NZ News