The Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Right Honourable John Key MP received a warm Indian welcome from Tourism New Zealand’s brand ambassador, Sidharth Malhotra at a press conference in New Delhi today.
The event was also attended by other special guests, such as: Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Union Minister of Tourism and Culture India; former Blackcaps captain and cricketer Brendon McCullum; the New Zealand High Commissioner to India, H.E. Grahame Morton; David Craig, General Manager, Asia, Tourism New Zealand and Steven Dixon, Regional Manager, South and South East Asia, Tourism New Zealand.
The press conference began with a symbolic celebration of Diwali to welcome Prime Minister Key who is also New Zealand’s Minister of Tourism followed by him addressing the media at the event.
Figures released in yesterday’s Tourism Satellite Account’s annual data reflect the work the tourism sector and government are doing to boost the value tourism brings to New Zealand. Tourism is vitally important to the New Zealand economy and thephenomenal growth has seen tourism become New Zealand’s top export earner. International tourism has pumped NZ$14.5 billion into the economy and directly employed over 188,000 people and has generated around 6,600 new tourism jobs for the year ending March 2016. One in 13 New Zealanders are now directly employed in the tourism industry and this will increase as visitor numbers continue to grow.
Steven Dixon, Regional Manager – South and South East Asia, Tourism New Zealand, said, “India is a priority emerging market for New Zealand and we have witnessed significant year on year growth in visitor arrivals. While this growth is really exciting to see, we think the Indian market has even greater potential. We are investing to maximise the opportunity, which includes growing the Tourism New Zealand team here in India.”
He further added, “At the personal and business level, there is also much that India and New Zealand have in common. Our values are similar, as shown by the vibrancy and diversity of our populations. Indians and Kiwis also share a love of sport (particularly cricket) and we both pride ourselves on the quality of our food and on the warm hosting offered to visitors by our friendly people.
“The two way flow of tourists between our countries is an important form of cultural exchange and demonstrates the interest our people take in each other’s culture. We are seeing a pleasing increase in Indian visitors arriving into New Zealand, but it is important to note that the number of Kiwis choosing to visit India is also growing. In the year to August 2016 almost 55,000 New Zealander’s visited India which is an 18.1% increase on the previous year. I’m hoping that after this visit by Prime Minister Key we will see many more Indians visiting New Zealand.”
At the press conference, Cricketer Brendon McCullum joined The Prime Minister, Mr. Key and Sidharth Malhotra in a candid discussion. They spoke about the commonalities between the two countries; love for movies, culture, food, adventure and sports.
While talking about his experience of being in India, Brendon McCullum, former New Zealand cricket team captain said, “I have developed a long-lasting bond with the people of India during my visits for various cricket tournaments. Today, in particular, is very special as I had the opportunity to be part of this event with the Prime Minister and Sidharth. I’m really excited about Sidharth’s upcoming visit to New Zealand. I’m looking forward to playing cricket together when he visits.”
Sidharth Malhotra, who had the privilege to meet the Prime Minister Mr. Key during his visit to Wellington in New Zealand last year, was thrilled to return the hospitality and gifted a statue of a lion as a representation of power, courage, confidence and pride to the Prime Minister as a token of his respect and appreciation.
Recollecting his trip, Bollywood Actor, Sidharth Malhotra said, “I was very humbled to be chosen as the Tourism Ambassador for New Zealand. I have countless memories of incredible experiences. New Zealand is a stunning country and a fantastic destination for adventure sports. While in New Zealand I also enjoyed learning about its fascinating Maori culture. I know New Zealand is a destination every Indian would love to visit.”
When speaking about his second upcoming trip to New Zealand, he added, “I’m leaving for another exploration to New Zealand soon, with plenty new activities planned. I can’t wait for it to begin!”