Travel & tourism awards salute top US tour operators.


Wellington (TOURISM NEW ZEALAND) - Seattle-based Down Under Answers nabbed three of five tourism awards, including the overall "supreme winner," at Tourism New Zealand's Travel & Tourism Awards dinner at the chic Table 8 restaurant in West Hollywood on Wednesday, May 17.

Down Under Answers' president, Kirk Demeter, was on-hand to receive the coveted awards, recognizing his company's stellar performance in best promotional/marketing campaign, wholesaler of the year (as voted by retail travel agents), and the overall supreme winner.

"Kirk and his team at Down Under Answers are to be commended for their expertise in the North American market, setting a strong benchmark for the rest of the industry," said George Hickton, chief executive of Tourism New Zealand.

Mr Demeter remarked: "We are absolutely thrilled that the hard work and dedication of my entire team has paid off! Our 'New Zealand only' itineraries are our fastest growing sales, and we are determined to continue to grow this market."

Currently in its second year, the Travel & Tourism Awards was established to recognize the dedication, expertise and creativity of the North American travel industry in selling New Zealand.

"Tourism New Zealand recognizes the considerable investment made by the industry in our key market of North America in promoting Aotearoa New Zealand," Mr Hickton said. "We are a country that offers boundless opportunities for exciting, memorable and alluring vacations, and these awards reward those who help make New Zealand a reality for many North American travellers."

Los Angeles-based Springboard Vacations was recognized for its excellence in the category "best consumer brochure."

A relatively new player in the industry, Springboard showcased a wide range of New Zealand product and regions accompanied with strong motivational copy, evocative images and accurate maps.

"We tried to do something different with this brochure, making it a visual tool to inspire people to travel," said Ruth Grau, president of Springboard Vacations.

"Stunning imagery is what New Zealand is all about and we have enjoyed wonderful feedback from consumers, travel agents and the New Zealand industry."

Active Downunder in San Diego walked away with the best online content for their website www.activedownunder.com.

President Jane Turner was able to show measurable results in the form of increased web traffic generated through fortnightly newsletters. The site also scored points for its large range of interactive itineraries and easy navigation.

"Our goal was to present an engaging and informative website, and this award is wonderful recognition of our successful efforts," Ms Turner said.

Entries were judged for consistent messages, accurate product knowledge and creativity in execution of promotional material.

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