More Kiwis heading to Tuscany

More Kiwis heading to Tuscany

More Kiwis travelling to Tuscany, and staying longer, was the impetus for the Italian region to visit New Zealand for the first time this week.

Alberto Peruzzini, managing director of the Tuscany Tourist Board, says the number of New Zealand visitors increased by 5% in 2017 over 2016, with room nights increasing by 9% to 100,000.

And although New Zealand is a small market, Peruzzini sees the growth as signicant and having potential.

‘As from September last year, New Zealanders can fly direct to Pisa in Tuscany from Doha with Qatar Airways. Doha to Pisa is five hours.’

Kiwis are staying an average of 2.8 nights in the region and Peruzzini is pushing for longer stays.

The region’s capital, Florence, is the third most popular Italian city for Kiwis after Rome and Venice (74% include Florence in their itinerary) and it’s roughly halfway (less than two hours) between the two cities.

Many of the visiting DMCs specialise in tailor-made itineraries that Peruzzini says will suit this market.

‘We also have new ways to discover Tuscany outside Florence and Pisa. People can discover the Tuscan lifestyle with immersive experiences over one or two weeks.

We also have adventure with activities such as canoeing and rafting, and it’s easy to self-drive.’

House of Travel product manager Angela Webber says Italy has overtaken France to become the second most popular destination in Europe after the UK.

‘We’ve seen a substantial increase in the last twelve months so it is fortuitous that Tuscany has visited. People are attracted by the romance, art and food and wine in the region.’

Therese Brooking of A Walker’s World says Tuscany is always popular.

‘I’ve discovered excellent new product that I will use,’ she says.

‘I’ll be putting together a tour in Valdichiana area where people can walk and cycle between villages. They can do cooking classes and taste wine, cheese and olive oil. It’ll be a three-day ‘Stay Put’ package where you only unpack once.’

The Tuscany Tourist Board, accompanied by an eight-strong contingent of tour operators, destination management companies and accommodation providers held B2B sessions with wholesalers at Stamford Plaza yesterday.

Around fity travel agents and media joined the mayor of Montepulciano at a gala dinner last night.