New Zealand's appeal boosted by Jacinda Ardern - Tourism NZ CEO

Millions of people have been hearing about New Zealand in Jacinda Ardern's interviews with US media, and it's boosting the country's international appeal, a tourism advocate says. 

The Prime Minister has done multiple high-profile interviews within just a few days while in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. This is generating "dreaming content" for New Zealand, says Tourism NZ chief executive Stephen England-Hall.

With Ms Ardern on the world stage, more people are thinking of New Zealand as a destination to visit, he told The AM Show on Wednesday. The Prime Minister's exposure will translate into more tourism for New Zealand, he says, which then translates into revenue.  

"We're certainly seeing an increase in visitor volume and also visitor value over the last few years," Mr England-Hall said.

New Zealand has had 3.9 million visitors in the last 12 months, and in five years that number is projected to reach just over 5 million. 

"We've seen the rate of spending by international visitors is growing faster than the number of visitors in total - so that's a good shape for our economy."

What if Ardern's topics aren't favourable for NZ?

Speaking to CNN's Christiane Amanpour, the Prime Minister discussed New Zealand's high rates of domestic violence, and she admitted how poor abuse and reporting rates are in the country. 

But Mr England-Hall isn't fazed by this. He said New Zealand is a unique country, and people around the world will be "fascinated" by the Prime Minister's honesty.

Ms Ardern acknowledges that things "aren't necessarily right with the way we operate," he said, which might appeal to international viewers. 

But Ms Ardern cannot take all the credit for any success, Mr England-Hall told The AM Show.

Former prime ministers Helen Clark and John Key have also represented New Zealand on the world stage; in 2009, Mr Key famously appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, where he read out 10 reasons to visit New Zealand.   

Helen Clark has drawn attention to New Zealand as the first female Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. She also publicly showcased her bid for the UN Secretary-General position, which was made into a film by Kiwi director Gaylene Preston.  

"I think this is one of the benefits of having John Key and Helen Clark and now Jacinda Ardern. The more time they spend in the public eye internationally and drawing attention to New Zealand, the more people are thinking about us as a location," said Mr England-Hall. 

He reflected on the #getNZonthemap Tourism NZ social media campaign, which featured Ms Ardern and Kiwi comedian Rhys Darby poking fun at New Zealand being missing from some world maps.

The campaign was a success, he said, and generated millions of dollars. 

"It was a very successful campaign. We looked at how many people looked at that content globally," said Mr England-Hall. "Once we hit more than 10 million viewers and more than $10 million in value, we just stopped counting it really."

Tourism New Zealand pushed the video on social media to visitor markets such as the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.