Multi-award-winning New Zealand company Southern Discoveries has brought one of the country’s most experienced tourism professionals on board as CEO.
Tim Hunter will join Southern Discoveries on Monday April 11, taking over from John Robson who steps down after 20 years’ involvement with the business, most latterly as General Manager.
Tim is an economics graduate of the University of Otago and has extensive experience in the New Zealand aviation, coach transport and destination marketing sectors.
He started his tourism career as a commercial pilot in the Southern Lakes area, has held airline planning roles with Air New Zealand, and worked in a number of senior general management roles including GM Marketing with The Mount Cook Group during the 1990s.
Tim broadened his international market experience with Tourism New Zealand as Regional Manager for Americas & Europe and General Manager Operations, and in 2010 became Chief Executive of Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism (CCT).
Over the past five years, Tim re-shaped CCT to deal with the challenges of visitor recovery in Christchurch, implemented a comprehensive Visitor Sector Recovery Plan for the region and activated a range of new partnerships to accelerate visitor recovery.
Mr Hunter said he was very much looking forward to the move from Christchurch back to his ‘tourism roots’ in the Southern Lakes.
“I started my tourism career in the Southern Lakes and I have extremely happy memories of my early days there working as a pilot flying between Wanaka, Queenstown and Milford Sound,” he said.
Mr Hunter said he relished taking up the new CEO role working for a company with such well-established market recognition and wide diversity of product.
“Queenstown and the Southern Lakes are currently the hottest spots in New Zealand in terms of tourism demand,” he said.
“Southern Discoveries has a very well-recognised brand and has the capabilities to develop more products that leverage off the region’s strong tourism outlook.
“The company has a demonstrated focus on customer service and I’m passionate about that. I very much enjoy working with teams to develop common purpose and clear goals.”
Southern Discoveries has been owned and operated by the Skeggs Group since 2009 and company director David Skeggs said they were “thrilled” to appoint someone of Tim’s calibre to the CEO role.
“Tim will have an integral role as we look to consolidate our position in the Southern Lakes and wider New Zealand tourism landscape, increase awareness of what we have to offer in international markets and deliver the best experience possible for our thousands of annual visitors,” he said.
Years of growth and development for Southern Discoveries have included re-branding and upgrading the former Milford Sound Red Boats operation in Milford Sound, starting a hugely successful kayaking operation in the Sound, buying Go Milford, commissioning the stunning catamaran Spirit of Queenstown and launching the Mt Nicholas operation. The company now also has two sales offices in Queenstown.
John Robson’s final day with the company will be April 13 2016.
1/ Tim Hunter is the new CEO of Southern Discoveries
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