Responsible Maori Tourism Marketing

Marketing Maori tourism in New ZealandTourists worldwide are becoming far more educated, far more interested in genuinely cultural experiences and understanding than even ten years ago. There has been a significant shift from cultural tourism being predominantly sightseeing and trinket buying trips to being authentic cultural experiences. It is this expectation of authenticity that has become the driving factor in cultural tourism. Respect and preservation of genuine culture can now be a part of the expected tourist experience with well focused tourism marketing.

Maori culture has a very good image globally, seen through the window of the All Black haka, and a few scattered commercial references. Of course, images of Maori culture internationally only hint at the wealth and depth of living culture, especially the inextricable links to the physical land. As a result, visitors are seeking an experience that will provide a sense of understanding into Maori culture. Targeted tourism marketing can direct and mould the experience, bringing marked benefits to both the visitor and host.

Many people are nervous about marketing Maori tourism in light of the damaging packaging of cultural monuments, landscapes and even cultures themselves in response to the tourist industry the world over. In countless cases, sites of cultural importance have been completely confiscated. Correctly marketing tourism with cultural aspects has been able to capitalise on a complete reversal in this trend. Tourists are now looking for the authentic, less damaging experience as the market becomes more genuinely interested in other cultures.

The future of Responsible Maori Tourism Marketing

Research by Tourism New Zealand shows that 20% of all visitors to New Zealand take part in an activity involving an element of Maori culture. It also shows that levels of satisfaction are generally high, and that decisions were often made based on the inclusion of culture. How then, can marketing Maori tourism increase participation in these events, without damaging it?

New Zealand Maori Tourism has published a five point strategy to increase the uptake and income from Maori tourism, or by including a significant Maori element to tourist attractions and activities. This combines marketing Maori tourism in five different spheres; Major Cities, Events, Regions, Conservation Land and Trade.

These areas hold great opportunities given clever tourism marketing. Whilst New Zealand Maori Tourism are looking to increase Maori components in national events, they are also endorsing the prominence of events, especially Matariki. This could be a major event, marketed correctly, bringing genuine revenue benefits at a range of levels, from local to national, as well as educating and celebrating Maori culture. However, events can bring benefits at much more local level. Community events open to the public can be a huge attraction, with guests joining in, sometimes in large numbers, without side-lining the event itself. Hindu Festivals of Lights, Vietnamese New Year, even Munich’s Oktoberfest or Gloucester’s cheese rolling are cultural events celebrated and enjoyed by local and international visitors side by side.

Some 20% of all international tourists arriving into New Zealand cite either natural sightseeing or walking & trekking as their main purpose for travel. Visitors are not staying in Auckland or Wellington. Tourists are both able and willing to travel to remote parts of the country and get their boots dirty. There is a real requirement for local, regional and national tourism marketing messages to be synchronized, providing a clear image of a living culture.

Combined with the international desire for authentic experiences, this means that conservation lands, managed and marketed correctly, can attract revenue whilst providing a high value tourist experience and, most importantly, respecting, celebrating and conserving culture.

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