‘Family of Ancient Trees’ to Boost Tourism - RePress


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Thursday, April 23

‘Family of Ancient Trees’ to Boost Tourism

Two of the world’s oldest trees could help bring more Japanese visitors to New Zealand.

The two trees – Waipoua Forest’s giant kauri Tane Mahuta and Jōmon Sugi, a giant cedar on Yakushima Island off the coast of Japan – have brought the two countries closer in a ground-breaking ‘Family of Ancient Trees’ agreement to be signed in Northland today.

The agreement, much like a sister city relationship, will see the two trees promoted together in both countries. Japanese travel agents are already planning products and brochures that will see Tane Mahuta promoted alongside domestic travel to Yakushima.

Yakushima is Japan’s most popular World Heritage Site in terms of domestic travel with around 250,000 Japanese visiting the island each year. The connection between the two trees will give Japanese nature-lovers a compelling reason to visit New Zealand,” says Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive George Hickton.

New Zealand’s natural beauty is already the key attraction for international visitors and the Japanese market is no exception,” says Mr Hickton.

Japanese officials arrived in New Zealand on Tuesday accompanied by media outlets Kyodo News, MBC TV, Nishi Nihon newspaper and Minami Nihon newspaper, which have a combined audience of more than 3.5 million. The agreement is also currently one of the top 10 listings on Yahoo Japan’s homepage.

New Zealand guests including the Minister of Conservation Tim Groser, members of local iwi Te Roroa, local councillors and Tourism New Zealand representatives will also attend the signing.

Mr Hickton says Tourism New Zealand intends to expand the initiative to include trees of significance from other countries around the world.

The family tree project is a living example of kaitiakitanga, or guardianship of the environment, a core value in the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2015. This project fits well with Tourism New Zealand's work in Japan to promote walking holidays in New Zealand and provides an opportunity to share New Zealand's environmental attractions with others.”

Japan is New Zealand’s fifth largest tourism market and one of our highest spending markets. Though visitor arrivals from Japan have been in decline in recent years, average spend by visitors from Japan increased 16 per cent to NZ$4,290 in the year to December 2008.

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