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New Zealand is rapidly becoming a sought after, premium destination for high value free independent travellers (FITs) from India, according to research released today by Auckland Airport. 

The report, The Indian FIT and the New Zealand Market, shows the number of Indian visitors arriving in New Zealand has surged 79% over the past five years, with 53,424 visitors arriving in the country in the year ending February 2017 – half of whom came purely for a holiday.

Indian visitors already rank 10th amongst all nationalities that arrive in New Zealand annually, but the report suggests that India could be set to move up that list as New Zealand’s reputation as a welcoming and idyllic destination grows.

Acting aeronautical commercial general manager, Scott Tasker, said despite the lack of a direct flight connection to New Zealand and it being relatively distant compared to other choices, Indian visitors are increasingly viewing New Zealand as a ‘hot’ destination, particularly those who have high discretionary incomes and are looking for something different.

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Supporting this view is the fact that New Zealand was the most searched for travel destination in India according to figures released late last year by international travel metasearch engine, Skyscanner.

“Word is spreading, particularly through social media, about the special attributes that New Zealand offers. Indian visitors will actively seek out new cuisines, and immerse themselves in New Zealand food and local wines, whisky and other beverages,” noted Tasker

“What’s more, Bollywood movies that have been shot on location in New Zealand are also having a marked effect on both attractiveness and awareness of what the country offers.”

He said the report suggested that New Zealand is also regarded by Indian travellers as one of the world’s most romantic destinations, as they associate a New Zealand holiday with “the heightening of senses and the space and time to connect.”

“We see the potential for significantly greater numbers of high value Indian visitors to experience New Zealand, particularly if a major airline elects to fly direct from either Mumbai or Delhi.

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“Our research has confirmed this and has given us some clear direction about what the New Zealand tourism sector should do to get full value from these high end Indian visitors.”

Speaking at the gateway’s annual International Travel Summit in Auckland, Tasker said Indian free independent travellers are adventurous and look for full immersion in new and challenging activities throughout their visit, often undertaking two or more activities in a day.

“They’re particularly attracted to premium experiences that offer thrills and excitement, knowing that they are supported by the rigorous safety standards for which New Zealand is renowned,” he stated.

According to Auckland Airport, the research findings also emphasise the importance of understanding the different approach taken by Indian travellers to a typical day. 

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It highlights them being comparatively late starters and finishers by New Zealand standards and the need, therefore, for tourism providers to adapt to their preferred timing.

“Indian visitors have very high expectations of the standards of service they receive and this is something that all providers need to be conscious of,” concluded Tasker.

“If their expectations are met they are certainly prepared to pay for it.”

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