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On behalf of Tourism New Zealand, I'd like to wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Looking back on 2011, it has been a massive year for the tourism industry. We had the challenges of natural disasters in Christchurch and Japan, later than anticipated snow fall in the South Island and ongoing economic uncertainty in many of our long haul markets.
In turn, the Rugby World Cup completely blew our expectations out of the water - with a staggering 133,200 visitors experience our country. Asia also continued to boom with greater air capacity contributing to increased visitor arrivals as it becomes easier for travellers to journey here.
The positive experiences had by visitors and media during the world cup and recent travel writer conferences present a wealth of opportunities. Capitalising on these in order to drive inbound tourism is critical as we go into 2012.
After a year of change and challenge, Tourism New Zealand has plenty to look forward to in 2011/12. Following in the wake of the Rugby World Cup, The Hobbit will showcase New Zealand to the world and provide great opportunities to entice more travellers here.
Tourism New Zealand has already undertaken significant planning and preparation to support this and other opportunities that will occur in the year ahead. We look forward to working through delivery and seeing results that will build visitor arrivals and economic value from tourism operators.
I hope you have the opportunity over Christmas to spend some time with friends and family and have an enjoyable festive season.