Internal affairs: Auckland vs. Wellington

When it comes to self-promotion, it’s fair to say the coolest little capital in the world has had it over the big little city for a while now. And while the lure of the exotic foreigners is hard to ignore, both cities have launched campaigns recently to attract more domestic visitors, with Auckland taking a self-deprecating approach to try and knock a few stereotypes on the head and Wellington offering up a few treats to potential guests from its biggest market. 

Research by Auckland tourism events and economic development (ATEED) underlined the fact that Auckland was seen by many New Zealanders as a vibrant, world-class, multi-cultural city, undoubtedly helped by the success of the Rugby World Cup last year. But it also showed that, as expected, there was also an anti-Auckland sentiment among some, so it decided the best way to change that was to poke fun at itself with a tongue in cheek domestic tourism campaign created by Barnes, Catmur & Friends, shot by Film Construction’s Steve Saussey and featuring Te Radar on vocals.


As the blurb says: “Looking for an exotic holiday with a difference, not too far from home? Travel to Auckland and you can experience the world in one place. Well, some pretty big chunks of it at least. We have Pacific islands, European style vineyards, world-class shopping and restaurants that you’d find in all the best corners of the globe and a vibrant eclectic mix of cultures. The only downside is missing out on the duty free.”

In many ways Auckland is becoming too popular for its own good as a place to live, with some saying the country is becoming too top heavy and a Southern coalition of the willing currently being discussed to try and balance the ledger and get itself heard in Wellington. But there’s always room for more visitors and, given domestic tourism is worth about $13 billion, or 60 percent of all tourism revenue, it’s perhaps surprising there’s not more attention paid to it.

According to the Herald, the campaign is costing $800,000 and is thought to be the biggest domestic tourism push for the region in ten years, with two months of TV activity planned and online promotion and deals set to continue over the coming months on auckland.co.nz. Hotel occupancy in Auckland is running at 60 percent and Ateed wants to increase that to about 80 percent, while growing domestic tourism from $1.36 billion in 2010 to $2 billion annually by 2021.

Paul Catmur says there’s always people lining up to take a shot at you whenever you do a town branding piece, but he’s been pleasantly surprised with the response so far and he hopes that by taking this self-deprecating approach and pitching it as an international city with the ‘No Passports Required’ line it might help change some of the antiquated attitudes Kiwis have of the city and eventually ensure that more of them discover that it is actually a place to be proud of. 

The Herald’s travel editor Winston Aldworth wasn’t too taken by the campaign, however, saying the message felt ‘dusty’. 

“Seriously, any of our country cousins who haven’t got past the preconceptions of Jafas and yuppiedom simply aren’t going to come here (which is probably for the best for all parties concerned). Other out-of-towners might find the tone a little dated – you’ll get just as much culinary snobbishness in Central Otago and Cuba St as on Ponsonby Road.”

Elsewhere in domestic tourism land, Wellington descended on Auckland recently in a campaign created and executed by Touch/Cast and started spoiling its biggest visitor market with a real-life continuation of Wellington’s Spoil Yourself in Wellington TV and digital campaign, which launched in 2008. 

The gifting began outside Mercure Auckland, with a projection promotion inviting Aucklanders to text in to see if they’d been spoiled. Some 100 unsuspecting customers at Wellingtonian Al Brown’s Depot restaurant and Grey Lynn’s Gypsy Tea Rooms were then spoiled with free return flights to Wellington with Air New Zealand. 


“Over 1000 Wellington gifts will be given to unsuspecting Aucklanders and visitors to WellingtonNZ.com/SpoilMe over the coming weeks,” says Positively Wellington Tourism’s general manager marketing, Sarah Meikle. 

Wellington’s total gift pool includes over 250 return AKL-WLG flights with Air New Zealand, ten Wellington holiday packages for two, 550 bags of Mojo coffee, 500 blocks of Whittaker’s chocolate, $100 Air New Zealand Holidays gift cards and a series of double passes to the sold out Brancott Estate WOW Awards Show, next year’s Hertz Sevens and the exclusive to Wellington season of the 60th anniversary tour of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.

While Wellington has lured more than its fair share of Aussies to the windy city, domestic visitation is the rock of its $2600 per minute tourism industry and commercial guest nights have increased 62 percent to over 1.3 million per year over the past decade.

 “New Zealanders—particularly Aucklanders, who are our biggest local visitor market—have played a pivotal role in supporting the capital’s transformation into what’s now internationally recognised as the ‘coolest little capital in the world’,” says Wellington City Council economic portfolio leader, councillor Jo Coughlan,

Positively Wellington Tourism is also this month distributing 260,000 mini magazines about the capital of cool throughout national and provincial newspapers.

Aucklanders have up until 20 September to see if they’ve been spoiled at WellingtonNZ.com/SpoilMe. And gifts must be redeemed by the end of this month.

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