Midweek Interview: Tony Saunders, General Manager Australia, Tourism New Zealand

Midweek Interview: Tony Saunders, General Manager Australia, Tourism New Zealand

The challenge for the industry is…the Passenger Movement Charge is obviously a hot topic. But I’d also say the sameness factor is a big challenge. Australia is a highly competitive marketplace so destinations and travel providers need to really focus on what makes their products, or services, truly unique for Australians.

The things I like about my job…promoting something I love and have a strong personal connection with: New Zealand. I also enjoy seeing the fruits of our labour which is the positive commercial outcomes from our partnerships with retail, wholesale, and airline partners in Australia.

And the frustrations are …anything that complicates the path to purchase for holidaymakers. It really should be a pleasurable and easy experience when booking your next holiday.

If I didn’t work in travel I would be…I’d probably still in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods or Fast Food Industry. Although, truth be known, I love the idea of being a farmer and working in the great outdoors – I’m sure the reality isn’t quite as idealistic!

Favourite airline? Any airline that flies the Tasman (yes I was a politician in a former life)

My proudest moment was…that’s an easy answer; the birth of my two sons. Nothing else compares.

I try to relax by… cooking over a fire pit, caveman style. It’s very therapeutic, but the food quality is hit and miss.

The last time I feared for my life was…going off trail and winding up on a very steep part of the mountain when skiing at Mt Hutt in the South Island. I was out of my depth and lost my nerve – silly boy!

If I can, I always try to avoid…arriving at Sydney airport during peak hour.

I really wish I had…my own tropical Island. I’ve always been jealous of Richard Branson for having his own tropical paradise – oh and because of his entrepreneurial spirit.

My favourite holiday was…my honeymoon at the top of the South Island March/April 5 years ago. We hiked the Queen Charlotte track in Marlborough and kayaked through the Abel Tasman National park in Nelson  The weather was incredible and there weren’t many other tourists or locals around.

My greatest weakness is…checking my phone and emails after hours. Come on we all do it.

And my greatest strength is…putting people at ease.

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