NZ Uses ‘Hobbit’ Diplomacy To Build Ties With Indonesia

By webadmin on 07:42 pm Dec 20, 2012
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Lisa Siregar

New Zealand, an increasingly popular tourism hot spot, is eyeing emerging markets such as Southeast Asia and China with its campaigns to attract more visitors to the country that was the filming location for “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “The Hobbit.”

The country’s largest airport, Auckland Airport, recently kicked off a campaign designed to get more Indonesians coming to the land of the kiwi. They just appointed chef Farah Quinn as the travel ambassador for the Luxury New Zealand website and social media campaign, which targets Indonesian travelers.

Peppy Adi-Purnomo from Auckland Airport said the airport is now seeing 14 million passengers per year, and expects that number to jump to 24 million by 2025.

Currently, Singapore Airlines, Jetstar, Malaysia Airlines and Qantas are likely to bring Indonesian passengers to Auckland via their home stop. Next year, Air New Zealand will operate flights from Bali to Auckland from June to October.

“Between Indonesia and New Zealand, there are business opportunities that are worth an estimated of $1.6 billion,” said New Zealand ambassador David Taylor. These opportunities lie in food, furniture and clothing.

The popularity of “The Lord of the Rings” movies by Peter Jackson have increased awareness about the beautiful and scenic New Zealand. In recent weeks, The New York Times reported that the trilogy has brought 20,000 people there every year, which, in 2004 alone, contributed to an estimated of $700 million.

Efforts by private companies and the government to support the biggest movie franchise ever made in New Zealand are clear. Prior to the world premiere of “The Hobbit” in November, tributes to the movie popped up everywhere, from a giant Gollum sculpture in the Wellington airport to a hobbit-themed safety video on Air New Zealand. Prime Minister John Key was also in attendance of the film’s world premiere in November in Wellington.

With “The Hobbit” currently the number one film in many foreign markets that also broke the US opening weekend record for December, more people have their eye on New Zealand as a holiday destination.

“Hobbiton is about a 2.5 hour drive from Auckland,” Farah Quinn said.

The Jakarta Globe spoke with the ambassador, David Taylor, about tourism and the relationship between Indonesia and New Zealand.

How does the NZ government lay out the tourism campaign in general?

Tourism in New Zealand is focusing on key markets, and they are looking at long term, historical relationships like Australia, the UK, Japan, China, and the US — those [places] are where our tourists mostly come from — and some parts of Europe, but increasingly, there are a lot of secondary markets, and Indonesia is one of those. Working on each market, we try and tailor out approach to the market.

Are there many New Zealanders coming to Indonesia?

Last year, there were 25,000 New Zealanders who came to Indonesia, according to statistics that I have seen, but if you look at the Bali arrivals, last year 38,000 New Zealand passport holders came to Bali. So there’s something funny about these figures. We’re not entirely sure about these numbers, but these are certainly good numbers.

How do young New Zealanders feel about travel?

All young New Zealanders have this thing they call ‘OE,’ or ‘overseas experience.’ Somewhere between the ages of 16 and 25, they want to go overseas and spend maybe three months or three years exploring the world and doing all different things. It varies from backpacking to teaching, but they just like to get out there and experience things. And that’s what brings more New Zealanders to Southeast Asia, you see more of them. I think it’s really good for international relationships so they can go out and understand the world a lot better.

What does the numbers of local tourists in New Zealand look like?

New Zealanders travel around a lot too, especially during Christmas time and New Year’s, because it’s summer time. Effectively, business in New Zealand closes down from mid-December to mid-January. So you see them off on holidays and going to the beach or mountains.

Will the New Zealand government open up opportunities for more Indonesians to study there?

We are very excited about the potential of more Indonesian students coming to New Zealand. When I came to Indonesia, two and a half years ago, there were 300 students coming to study in New Zealand, and now it’s about 700. There’s a target of getting 4,000 Indonesian students to New Zealand by 2017. We are investing a lot into building links to universities and making a lot of agreements about joint degrees and opportunities for students and staff. As for scholarships, that is separate, but our government has a preference for people coming from eastern Indonesia.

The New York Times reports that tourism has caused New Zealand to slip from first to the 14th place in the Yale Environmental Performance Index. Is there an agenda to improve that? And what is New Zealand’s involvement in the Kyoto Protocol?

We are committed to protecting the environment and the work is currently in legislation. As for emission control, we are currently on top from the rest of the world. To address the climate change problem, everybody needs to adjust their behavior. New Zealand can’t stop the problem by itself, it’s a global picture, especially with China’s growth.

What is the effort to push China to commit to the Kyoto Protocol?

Climate change is a global issue. All countries share responsibilities. Finding the solution will require all countries to make a commitment. Clearly, there will be different terms on who should do what, but the first [step] to reach a global concession is in getting developed countries to act first — we did — through the Kyoto Protocol. There is now going to be a Kyoto 2 and we’re also getting another agreement which is wider.

New Zealand is interested in that wider process. China is doing quite a bit itself to try and limit growth and emissions, but there’s a signal to see that it’s important for all countries taking steps together.

You are expecting more tourists to come to New Zealand — what is the local policy to control carbon emissions and any environmental impacts?

Air New Zealand is one of the pioneer companies in using biofuel, and they experiment with different ways in approaching travel, such as not having their engine running until they fly out, glide park experiments, and trying to reduce [emissions from] their machines to become efficient, so they are very conscious of nature and updating the aircraft, as Garuda Airlines [is] here. There will be [new] technologies which are going to need initiatives to address the issues of climate change.