Rotorua should expect thousands more visitors in the coming year after local tourism providers bagged new deals and renewed old contracts at Trenz.

Trenz, New Zealand's largest annual tourism trade expo was held in Shed 10 on Auckland's waterfront this week with more than 1300 tourism operators, international buyers and media in attendance.

Whakarewarewa-The Living Maori Village business development manager Helen Beckett said her first visit to Trenz had been an eye-opening experience and gave her plenty of confidence for the future.

"For small- to medium-sized businesses Trenz can be an expensive exercise, but it's an excellent way to connect with people without heading overseas," Ms Beckett said.

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"What we have found from our buyers is they really want to get back to the grassroots culture and experience a real cultural exchange. They want to connect with the people.

"They love the fact we actually live in the village. While times are changing, culturally we still hang onto what we are and the product just sells itself."

She said they connected well with South American clients and those from Singapore who were engrossed by their culture.

Mericia Waqanimaravu from Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.
Mericia Waqanimaravu from Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.

Mericia Waqanimaravu and Dave Harvey represented Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland at Trenz and said they had noticed a change in buyers' preferences with more people asking for bespoke itineraries, more self-drive options and package tours.

"We've been talking to a lot of Chinese independent travel groups as well as European and North American operators and have a totally full appointment diary," Mrs Waqanimaravu said.

"We've also managed to squeeze in a few walk ups as well. It's all looking really good for the coming year," she said.

Lady Saifiti and Sarah Christie from Tamaki Maori Village.
Lady Saifiti and Sarah Christie from Tamaki Maori Village.

For Sarah Christie and Lady Saifiti of Tamaki Maori Village it had been a tough week with many buyers lamenting the passing of their former boss Doug Tamaki who died earlier this year.

"It brings back a lot of memories," Ms Christie said.

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"But it's been a really successful week. After Doug's passing we are just consolidating and not making too many changes.

"We had a double appointment stream and targeted Western markets, North America, the UK and Europe, it's been a worthwhile trip," she said.

Rotorua Canopy Tours sales and marketing manager Nicki Dent said her Trenz experience had been a lot easier after the company won last year's supreme tourism award.

"People know a lot more about us and you can't measure the impact of winning that award, it's giving us a lot of exposure and to have the conservation side of things recognised was a real boost," she said.

Destination Rotorua general manager Oscar Nathan said the value of attending Trenz was hard to estimate, but those companies that attended brought visitors to the city who would also visit other attractions not represented at the expo.

The annual trade expo wrapped up last night with a farewell function at Sky City and will take place for the first time in Dunedin next May.

Matthew Martin covered Trenz as a guest of Tourism Industry Aotearoa.