Prime Minister John Key's recent visit to Japan to mark 60 years of diplomatic relations between it and New Zealand has co-incided with the announcement of a $250,000 Japan Innovation Fund from Auckland Airport.
It's intended to encourage New Zealand tourism businesses to develop products and services that inspire more Japanese people to visit our country and reverse the decline in visitor arrivals that has been seen in recent years.
“Japan is a high potential tourism market that is showing strong signs of being ready to rebound to peak visitor numbers,” said Auckland Airport general manager aeronautical commercial Glenn Wedlock.
The Japan Innovation Fund is part of its Ambition 2020 initiative, focused on getting the Japanese tourist market back up to more than 100,000 visitors each year.
“In order to do this, we need to show them we can deliver the unique experiences they want and offer great value, comparable to countries like Croatia and Slovenia which have seen significant increases in the number of Japanese visitors in the past four years. We are seeing good growth in the market with several airlines increasing capacity between New Zealand and Japan, but there is huge potential to develop further demand from Japan if we get this right.”
The fund will be in place for one year and businesses such as airlines and other tourism providers will be able to apply for the funding.
A business development team will outline how the fund works later this year in a series of workshops and industry engagements.
Auckland Airport analysis predicts Japanese travellers could contribute $300 million each year in visitor value by 2020 – it was about $209 million at the end of 2011.