Front foot­ing on back­pack­ers


Ro­torua’s Mary Tol­ley knows how im­por­tant the back­packer mar­ket is to Ro­torua and New Zealand, and now it will be part of her re­spon­si­bil­ity to help oth­ers re­alise it.

Tol­ley has been ap­pointed the first fe­male chair­per­son of the Back­packer Youth and Ad­ven­ture Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion (BYATA), mak­ing her a key ‘‘’voice’’ in the im­por­tant sec­tor.

She said she was ‘‘def­i­nitely up for the chal­lenge’’, bring­ing a broad tourism back­ground which in­cludes her cur­rent role at Te Puia as Mar­ket Man­ager – UK, Europe, Aus­tralia, FIT and Back­packer.

The new lead­er­ship role is a ‘‘nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion’’ for Tol­ley, who has spent two years on the BYATA board, in­clud­ing hold­ing the role as vice chair­per­son.

‘‘BYATA has been the in­de­pen­dent voice of the back­pack­ing and ad­ven­ture travel in­dus­try since 2003.’’

Key tar­gets for Tol­ley in­clude in­creas­ing mem­ber­ship in the as­so­ci­a­tion as well as in­creas­ing the com­mu­ni­ca­tion and net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for BYATA mem­bers.

‘‘Back­pack­ers ac­count for over 159,000 vis­i­tors to New Zealand a year, driv­ing 22 per cent of hol­i­day stay days with an av­er­age length of stay over 31 days.

‘‘Some peo­ple look at it and think it is a bud­get seg­ment but these peo­ple stay longer and do more and ul­ti­mately spend well, which means they are ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal for us.

‘‘It is chal­leng­ing but di­verse sec­tor with a lot of op­por­tu­nity for growth.’’

Tol­ley has done a lot of back­pack­ing her­self, which she be­lieves helps.

‘‘I can put my­self in their shoes. It cer­tainly isn’t a for­eign con­cept to me.’’

The new po­si­tion will also have pos­i­tive spinoffs for both Te Puia and tourism lo­cally, putting Tol­ley at the front of re­search, ideas and op­por­tu­ni­ties within the sec­tor.

Te Puia Gen­eral Man­ager Sales and Mar­ket­ing, Kiri Atkin­son-Crean said Tol­ley’s ap­point­ment is a huge credit both to Mary and her stand­ing in the in­dus­try, and to Ro­torua and its com­mit­ment to the back­packer mar­ket.

‘‘It’s ex­cit­ing for Mary to be ap­pointed as the chair of this or­gan­i­sa­tion, and espe­cially as the first woman chair - it will have great spin offs for Ro­torua as well.’’


Mary Tol­ley is the new chair of the Back­packer Youth and Ad­ven­ture Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion.

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