Brand USA in conjunction with the US Ambassador, Mark Gilbert, celebrated the 100th anniversary of the US National Park Service with a VIP screening of the documentary America Wild: National Parks Adventure at Auckland’s IMAX theatre this week. America Wild, filmed in more than 30 national parks across the USA with IMAX 3D cameras, follows three adventurers as they hike, climb and explore their way across a few of the USA’s national parks.
In town for the launch, Anne Madison chief strategy and communication officer for Brand USA says it was appropriate to screen the movie here as New Zealanders have a shared interest in preserving their parks. ‘There is a juxtaposition between the outdoors and the city in New Zealand insofar as Kiwis are never too far from the outdoors and are regarded as natural explorers. With this movie, we want to show what unexpected surprises are in store within the US National Parks.’
There are more than 400 state and national parks throughout the USA and Madison says more national parks have been established under this current president than previous. ‘He is a positive influence and wants to ensure the protection and preservation of the great outdoors,’ she says. ‘So many Kiwis would not be aware they are
actually in a national park. The Martin Luther Memorial in Washington DC and the Statue of Liberty, for example, are national parks. They are more than just green spaces.’
Last year, 300 million people spent time in a US national park, 20% of who were international visitors.
Madison says an additional 165,000 airline seats from New Zealand can only but further bolster park visitor numbers. ‘Kiwis are already branching out and the Texas hub (with Air New Zealand), has helped take travellers further afield, to places and parks that they would not have thought to visit.’ New Zealand visitation numbers to the USA are already strong, she adds. ‘In 2005, 139,000 headed to America. In 2015, that number swelled to 300,000. We have just scratched the surface in regards to the tourism numbers and awareness of the USA and our message to New Zealanders is that the USA is open for business,’ adds Madison.