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More than 50 international travel agents from UK, Europe, North America and Australia experienced the best of the Lake Wanaka region last week as part of Tourism New Zealand’s ‘Mega Famil’.
The agents enjoyed a range of activities in the region including a scenic helicopter flight over Mt Aspiring National Park, jet boating on the Matukituki River, a 4WD tour through a high country station and a lake cruise and nature walk on Mou Waho Island. They also visited operators based at Wanaka Airport and watched the ‘Revealing Lake Wanaka’ series of short films at Cinema Paradiso which tell local stories through the eyes of people who live here.
In addition, the visit showcased Lake Wanaka’s exceptional local produce and included a degustation menu at Whare Kea Lodge with wine matching by Maude Wines.
Leigh Stock, general manager at Edgewater Resort who hosted US and Australian agents said: "The guys from North America experienced an absolute pearler of a day - bright sunshine as they dined out on the front terrace overlooking a mirror-smooth lake. The famil was a great opportunity to give our trade visitors a taste of fine southern hospitality."
Mark Orbell of Ridgeline Adventures said that advertising couldn’t buy the level of exposure achieved during the visit.
"We are totally behind Lake Wanaka Tourism's long term vision to get people staying longer and doing more here and are keen supporters of famils like this. Agents need to experience what we offer in order to ‘sell’ the region overseas so to have them out in our Land Rovers traveling the back roads of West Wanaka Station was awesome," he said.
Another host operator, Chris Riley of Eco Wanaka Adventures, added: "It’s great to show these agents that special Wanaka charm. The local community’s pride and willingness to share this amazing region with visitors leaves such a lasting impression that I’m sure we’ll all see the benefits of the Mega Famil in the near future."
Lake Wanaka Tourism general manager, James Helmore said the group already promotes the region heavily to the international markets represented but agreed this was no substitute for hosting travel agents personally.
"Seeing is believing and we made sure that our recent trade visitors saw the very best the region has to offer. The feedback we’ve had already shows Lake Wanaka was a real highlight for the agents that stayed here and reflects the Lifestyle Reserve identity - the freedom and space coupled with a warm welcome from the local community," he said.
"Even before they get home to share some wonderful stories and memories with their colleagues and customers they were busy posting, tweeting and blogging on social media sites during their stay. This kind of trusted, independent endorsement in our key visitor markets is absolutely priceless."
Tourism New Zealand’s Mega Famil saw 400 international agents visit the country on several different itineraries. The tour included formal trade training sessions in Auckland so that all agents were able to learn more about every region in the country.