New Zealand's surging popularity as a visitor destination is fuelling demand from international travel and tourism buyers wanting to come to Trenz 2016, the $30 billion tourism industry's premier annual trade event.
Trenz 2016 is on in Rotorua from May 10 to 13 and will be attended by 356 travel and tourism buyers from 28 markets.
That's the highest number of buyers since 2007 and up 10 per cent on Trenz 2015, said Chris Roberts, chief executive of the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA), which manages the event.
"With 300 New Zealand tourism operators exhibiting, Trenz promotes the best visitor products we have to offer the world's travellers. In addition to reconnecting with well-established operators, the buyers will be looking for new and different experiences they can sell to consumers in their home markets."
Mr Roberts said interest in Trenz was incredibly strong this year. The event is at capacity, with waiting lists for exhibitors and buyers.
"That's great news for New Zealand, as a buoyant, high-growth tourism industry drives economic wealth and supports thousands of jobs in communities all over the country."
He said Trenz 2016 was enjoying big growth in buyer numbers out of Australia, China and the United States, New Zealand's three largest visitor markets.
"Air New Zealand's new Buenos Aires to Auckland service is also stimulating interest out of Argentina, with seven buyers heading to Trenz 2016, up from three last year.
"New air links between Auckland and other growing Pacific Rim economies, such as Vietnam, have also generated buyer interest from those markets, again highlighting the importance of air connectivity to the tourism industry."
Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler said the fact Trenz was attracting the largest number of buyers in nearly a decade was excellent news for the industry.
Mr Bowler said the timing of Trenz provided a perfect opportunity to broaden the peak season by driving travel in the spring 2016 shoulder season.
Over the four-day event, exhibitors and buyers will have a total of 15,000 15-minute meetings.
Mr Roberts said during and after the event deals would be made that collectively would be worth tens of millions of dollars to the New Zealand economy.
"The buyers who attend Trenz are the most influential in terms of generating international visitors to New Zealand. The majority at last year's event said Trenz is the most important New Zealand tourism product purchasing activity they undertake.
"TRENZ is an invaluable event for the industry as we work to increase annual tourism revenue to $41 billion by 2025."