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Tourism NZ to close Thailand office as chief exec quits

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Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) has announced it will close its Thailand office, a second surprise in a few days, following the resignation of TNZ’s chief executive Kevin Bowler.

TNZ confirmed on Friday it was consolidating its focus in the South and South East Asia region and would close its Thailand office by the end of the year. The focus is shifting to India.

The organisation’s two fixed-term employees based in Bangkok, will finish by the end of the December 2016.

“With this decision we will consolidate our focus in South and South East Asia, with particular emphasis on generating value from the India market,” said Bowler, who will continue in his TNZ role until 28 October 2016.

“We will continue to support Thai Airways but again, with greater focus on its connection into India.”

Visitor arrivals in New Zealand from Thailand remain modest, having grown from 17,000 in 2006 to 24,000 in June 2016. Thailand’s share of Asian visitors is also shrinking from 3.6% (2014) to 2.8% (2016).

Bowler said: “The limited investment we have been making in the market is making limited impact but stretching our resource and focus. We need to be sure that our investment is targeted toward the greatest opportunities available, and is delivering the best return possible which is the reason for this decision to close.”

A couple of days earlier, TNZ chair Kerry Prendergast confirmed Bowler’s resignation after almost seven years leading the organisation.

Bowler will leave on 28 October 2016 to join Frucor Beverages Limited as its New Zealand chief executive.

Prendergast said Bowler had transformed TNZ into a high performing, digital-led, integrated marketing communications business with a clear mission and values that all its staff shared.

“During his tenure, Kevin has reinvigorated the way the country is marketed, narrowing the organisation’s focus to people already ‘actively considering’ New Zealand and delivering significant value to the economy through the use of targeted digital media channels.

“He and his team have subsequently presided over some of the most extraordinary growth the industry has ever seen with visitor spend rising 25% to NZD 10.2 billion in the past twelve months alone.

“Kevin joined Tourism New Zealand in January 2010 and led the organisation and industry through the recovery from the Canterbury earthquakes.

“His time at Tourism New Zealand has been marked by the remarkable success of leveraging international attention gained from the Rugby World Cup and The Hobbit films; the inspiring approach to using international ambassadors in our promotion; expansion into new markets and sectors, and significant partnerships with aviation and digital media partners.

“He ends his tenure having just announced Hollywood powerhouse James Cameron as the latest in a line of influencers who have thrown their voice behind the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign.

“With the tourism industry delivering more value to the economy than ever before, Kevin leaves Tourism New Zealand is the best shape possible.”

Edited by Peter Needham