Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T NZ tour operator thl has announced plans to merge its New Zealand rental business with KEA Campers and United Campervans, in a bid to advocate tourism and deliver financial benefits. Although acquisition and implementation costs totalled $1.7 million, thl’s operating profit has been forecast rise to $19.3 million from $16.3 million during the 2012 financial year. “This merger is logical, strategic and the best response to the challenging realities of the current New Zealand market,” thl chairman Keith Smith said. “thl is the industry player that already has the scale to market New Zealand tourism and New Zealand campervan vacations to a broad international audience and therefore the best placed to make the most of the additional brands.” Debt reduction of $19 million is expected in the first eight months after the merger. In the first full year following the merger, operating earnings are forecast to rise to $28.8 million. “The merger is an appropriate response to the challenging macro-economic factors facing New Zealand tourism and the campervan industry,” thl chief executive Grant Webster said. United Campervans principal Kay Howe will join the thl board as an executive director to assist with the merger, while KEA Campers principal Grant Brady is poised to lead thl’s New Zealand vehicle sales operations. “thl, combined with United and KEA, has a great future and will be a powerful advocate for New Zealand tourism particularly in high-value international markets such as the United Kingdom and Europe,” Ms Howe said.thl recently posted high operating profits, despite global instability and economic uncertainty. The merger is scheduled to be completed on 31 October 2012.