After leading Tourism New Zealand through a decade of success and helping to develop the 100% Pure New Zealand tourism campaign, chief executive George Hickton put in his last day at the coalface today.
Hickton joined the team in 1999 and has built the 100% Pure brand into one of the most successful tourism campaigns in the world.
"My first job when I came into this organisation was to deliver a global marketing campaign that would get New Zealand back on the international tourism map," he says.
And few would argue that he has achieved that goal.
Behind the scenes, he has also given his backing to other aspects of the tourism industry, from Māori tourism to Qualmark and the i-SITE Network.
In his final address, Hickton said: "Over the years the brand has grown in strength and it is now recognised as one of, if not ‘the’, leading country brands in the world. It always was a bold statement and there were always risks, but I believe the brand is more relevant today than it was in 1999 when it was launched ... In the crowded international market place, New Zealand has a tough job getting noticed and being memorable. The work on 100% Pure New Zealand needs to continue, with support and investment that will ensure the brand and the tourism industry continue to flourish."
Tim Hunter, current general manager operations, is acting chief executive and Kevin Bowler will take up the reins in January.