Development West Coast (DWC), in association with the region’s tourism industry, hosted the inaugural Manaakitanga ki Te Tai Poutini hui - West Coast Tourism Summit at Shantytown in Greymouth.
The event was attended by around 150 tourism operators from Karamea to Haast, featuring speakers from across the country.
“As the region, and the country, readies for a busy summer season, the hui was a superb, industry-led, initiative for industry to reconnect after a two-year hiatus,” stated Patrick Dault, Destination and Tourism Manager for DWC.
The hui featured a flurry of speakers from award-winning tourism operators, Air New Zealand, Tourism Export Council, KiwiRail, Hospitality New Zealand, Tourism Industry Association Aotearoa, Department of Conservation, Scenic Hotel Group, The Travel Corporation, Rotorua Canopy Tours, Pounamu Pathway and inbound tour operators, Southern World Vacations, Terra Nova Tours, TravelEssence – all converging on Greymouth to discuss the future of tourism on the West Coast and in Aotearoa.
“This is a fantastic way to challenge the industry and forge a pathway to reinvent tourism on the coast with more determination and resilience than ever,” added Dault.
The theme for this year’s hui was customer service as a regional narrative, with the aim to better define what makes Te Tai Poutini a unique region and achieve greater regional and national collaboration in favour of positive outcomes for industry and manuhiri (visitors).
“Better understanding how national partners like Air New Zealand and KiwiRail, promote Aotearoa, and how the West Coast plays a part in that narrative, is a fantastic way for industry to come together and address market failures or opportunities,” said Phillip Barnett, owner of Hotel Lake Brunner.
Nick Rodgers, owner of the Experience Collective running Monteith’s Brewery, added: “It's also a great opportunity for industry to reconnect and strengthen our relationships, which is vital for our industry and to ensure our visitors make the most of their West Coast experience – now more than ever in a post-Covid world.”
The hui featured speakers from across the motu sharing experiences from developing tourism products to innovation, productivity, and sustainability initiatives.
“The tourism dream is alive and well in Te Tai Poutini,” stated Paul Button, Tai Poutini Polytechnic graduate, and General Manager of TIA Supreme-award winning Rotorua Canopy Tours. “With so many tourism businesses attending the hui, the West Coast might have pulled one of the largest tourism gatherings in Aotearoa this year.”
The hui was also a great opportunity for DWC to unveil its long-awaited Destination Management Plan. The ambitious plan sets a path for industry to tackle the future of tourism, giving a voice to communities and defining priority projects for the region. Addressing topics like food tourism, wellness, sustainability, and regenerative tourism but also greater alignment between industry, local government, and entities on the Coast. The DMP also explores innovation in the tourism sector, workforce development and operator resilience.
This first post-pandemic hui marks the end of a difficult chapter in New Zealand’s and the West Coast’s history. Operators came together to hear more about the latest developments, notably, the Department of Conservation’s Dolomite Point development and DOC’s heritage and visitor strategy.
KiwiRail and Great Journeys of New Zealand provided insight into developments for train service across Aotearoa and the TranzAlpine, as well as international development to attract new clientele. Air New Zealand discussed innovation in the airline sector, and in customer expectation from an international and domestic perspective. Operators, Scenic Hotel Group, Rotorua Canopy Tours, The Travel Corporation and Pounamu Pathways discussed the importance of leading with values to deliver transformational tourism experiences.
Operators had the chance to mingle over lunch – sponsored by Scenic Hotel Group.
Karl Luxon, Scenic Hotel Group Chief Executive, said Scenic Hotels has a 40+ year history on the Coast, making significant investments not just in their assets, but in West Coast communities.
“The hui has been a great opportunity for the industry to get together and for new ideas to emerge. It is important that the industry innovates and collaborates.”
Hospitality New Zealand CEO Julie White presented innovations in the hospitality space and opportunities for West Coast businesses to access training and development for front line workers as well as for the region to collaborate to develop the Tai Poutini ambassador program.
Tourism Industry Aotearoa’s Gisela Purcell presented TIA tourism sustainability commitment highlighting inspiring initiatives from regions across the country in sustainability and regenerative tourism.
International wholesaler Andrew Morten of TravelEssence, located in Utrecht, presented his thoughts on the international competitiveness of New Zealand as a visitor destination and the critical role that the Coast plays in his itineraries.
Tourism Export Council and inbound tour operators Southern World Vacations and Terra Nova Tours discussed the ever-changing international landscape and the importance of Aotearoa as a safe, desirable destination where the West Coast plays an important part in connecting manuhiri to our whenua.
The event concluded at Monteith’s with discussions furthered and connections strengthened, and a cautious optimism of a promising 2023.