Tourism NZ restarts global advertising, while border remains closed

New Zealanders stranded offshore say it is “another slap in the face” to see advertisements from Tourism New Zealand encouraging people to travel here, after they have been trying to do so for months.

Kiwi Adam Borich, who runs his own business in the US state of New York, saw the ads popping up on Facebook and was at first delighted to see one that began with the words: “This is a message from New -Zealand”.

“I thought, ‘Wow, they’re finally opening the border for us.’ I must have missed the announcement of the Things,” he said.

“Knowing that 100% NZ is a government agency, I thought that was it. Nothing in the ad said the borders were still closed.

In New York, USA, Adam Borich saw the New Zealand advertisement and thought the borders had finally opened.

ADAM BORICH/Supplied

In New York, USA, Adam Borich saw the New Zealand advertisement and thought the borders had finally opened.

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Tourism NZ, a Crown entity which advertises under the 100% Pure New Zealand brand, launched the new online advertising campaign in early January, targeting countries including the US and UK.

The “Message from New Zealand” campaign began on January 2 and targeted people living in the United States and Britain, according to Facebook data.

Since March, Borich said he has logged into every round of MIQ releases online – often scheduled in the middle of the night for Kiwis living in the United States.

“I’m here for every lottery, but the highest I ever got was 16,000 in the queue,” he added.

He said he booked tickets as soon as it was announced citizens could isolate at home earlier this year, but said he was ‘giving up hope’ after the government delayed these changes in December.

An advertising campaign by Tourism New Zealand, "A message from New Zealand"offended the offshore Kiwis - who were unable to return.

Provided

A Tourism New Zealand advertising campaign, ‘A Message from New Zealand’, offended offshore Kiwis – who were unable to return.

Borich, like many others, had to cancel his flights and plans again.

He had tried to see his whānau, especially his young, rapidly growing nieces and nephews.

“Living abroad right now, you still have hope,” he said. Advertisements encouraging people to visit New Zealand have proven to be another example of dashed hopes, “and another slap in the face for Kiwis living abroad”, he said.

“I don’t want to overreact, but we don’t even feel like Kiwis anymore. It is as if the country turned its back on us.

ACT chief David Seymour said Kiwis stuck offshore contacted him about Tourism NZ advertising during the pandemic.

ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff

ACT chief David Seymour said Kiwis stuck offshore contacted him about Tourism NZ advertising during the pandemic.

ACT chief David Seymour said Kiwis stuck offshore, including Borich, had lifted the announcements with him.

“Their advertising is whistling in the wind, wasting taxpayers’ money and seriously offending New Zealanders for whom the very thought of being able to return to New Zealand as a citizen is a fantasy,” he said.

He said Tourism NZ may have scheduled the posts before the government delayed MIQ-free entry into New Zealand, and was therefore “victimized by the same disorganization that everyone is dealing with”.

But Seymour questioned why the agency was spending money promoting something no one could access. “Advertising when you’re out of stock never makes your store more popular.”

Speaking at Monday’s post-cabinet press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said the prime minister would talk about “reconnecting New Zealand” during a speech on Thursday.

Tourism NZ was approached for comment but did not respond in time.

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