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Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive George Hickton to Stand Down

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The CEO of Tourism New Zealand, George Hickton, who has led the marketing organisation for more than a decade, is to stand down at the end of this year.

 George Hickton advised the Tourism New Zealand board and staff that he will be leaving when his contract expires on 1 December 2009.

"After more than ten years in this role the decision has been a difficult one but I believe the time is right."

Hickton has presided over a 60% growth in visitor numbers during his decade in office, capped this week with the news that for the first time in a 12 month period visitor numbers from Australia exceeded a million people.

"I am immensely proud of what we have achieved since 1999. We launched the 100% Pure New Zealand brand ten years ago and it has now become iconic for both the country and tourism," Hickton said. "Weve also had some high profile PR results with New Zealand gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show in London, and the giant inflatable rugby ball events in Paris and London."

The Chairman of Tourism New Zealand Greg Muir acknowledged the tremendous commitment Hickton had brought to the role of CEO.

"George has managed some outstanding achievements during his time as the CE of Tourism New Zealand. He will be a big loss not only to Tourism New Zealand but to the industry at large," Mr Muir said.

"We know that this was a big call for George and we have welcomed the fact that he will continue in his role until his contract expires at the end of the year.

"Tourism is vitally important to the New Zealand economy, were operating in an incredibly challenging environment and while the Board will be moving immediately with the search for a new CEO, it is great to know that George will see through a number of new marketing initiatives to make sure the industry is in the strongest possible position," he added.

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