Regions from the central South Island have come together to re-connect tourism businesses and inbound tour operators after a two-year hiatus.
He waka eke noa has never rung so true, with these regions uniting for the very first time, promoting the complementarity and synergies between districts rather than competing for tourism dollars. A direct benefit of the Destination Management approach as required by the Minister of Tourism, the Honorable Stuart Nash.
“The goal is to make it really easy for both industry veterans and newcomers to learn more about the regions and discover those hidden gems that have made New Zealand so desirable to international visitors,” mentioned Géraldine Morisse, Commercial Tourism Executive, Development West Coast.
The Auckland industry showcase enhanced awareness for the regions and their products just at the right time – before the return of international visitors to Aotearoa.
“We also aimed to increase agents’ confidence in recommending or selling the products and the regions participating in this event,” Morisse said.
The event attracted 80 agents from 40 different inbound companies, as well as Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand, Christchurch Airport, Qualmark.
With 36 tourism operators at the event, ranging from emerging businesses to established operations, including Te Wepu intrepid pod retreats, Franz Josef Wilderness Tours, Wings over Whales and Underworld Adventures, the showcase offered a unique perspective and value for all types of travelers – from luxury to budget and special interests such as fly fishing, birdwatching, and nature hikes.
Increasing the awareness for the Canterbury and West Coast regions is an ongoing labour of love.
“There is so much happening in our regions, it’s even difficult for regional tourism organisations to keep up, for inbounders it is their very livelihood,” added Di Hay, Operations and Destination Manager, Venture Timaru.
“This is a people business, and they key is connecting with the people behind the products so you are confident that when you send your clients there, they will feel the same level of service with our providers than the one we put into building their once in a lifetime itinerary” added Deepak Bhatnagar, Managing Director, Vyom Holidays.
This is a first collaboration for Christchurch, Hurunui, Kaikōura, Timaru, Mackenzie and the West Coast – with support from Christchurch Airport, Air New Zealand and KiwiRail.
“Visitors don’t see regional boundaries, travel is a seamless and fluid series of experiences and it’s the very synergy that makes it memorable – that’s what we hope to achieve with this,” added Mel Wong, Trade and Produce Development Manager, Christchurch NZ.
For the tourism organisations, one of the key measures of success will be an increase in visitor nights in the regions and continued growth of international visitor spend.
“We’re also hopeful that those attending will become passionate advocates for Canterbury and West Coast, which we all know is a stunning area with so much to offer,” added Hay.
“We also hope that this is the first of many to come,” summed up Morisse.
With more collaborations on the cards, it seems one of the silver linings of the Covid crisis could very well be renewed unity with the tourism whānau.