Tourism year in review (2020)

03 August 2020
Development West Coast
A challenging year for West Coast tourism operators.

West Coast tourism

For a more coordinated delivery of economic development, the functions of the regional tourism organisation (RTO), formerly Tourism West Coast, migrated into DWC on 1 April 2019. We are pleased to have the tourism team on board and working in the wider economic development context to maximise the full potential of the West Coast.

After experiencing significant growth in the tourism sector in recent times, this financial year brought with it a series of major challenges.

The loss of the Waiho Bridge during an extreme weather event in March caused much disruption to the tourism sector and the wider economy. The Omoto slip in October closed State Highway 7 between Greymouth and Reefton and prevented the TranzAlpine train coming through. In December, a large section of Mt Hercules came down closing State Highway 6, south of Harihari and causing further disruption.

West Coast tourism operators were already hurting from the economic impact of these extreme events, when COVID-19 hit. New Zealand closed all entry ports to non-residents from 20 March and entered a nationwide lockdown from 26 March until 13 May.

These events have contributed to an extremely difficult time for our tourism sector, which is reflected in the $22m drop in tourism spend on the West Coast this financial year. Despite these disruptions and challenges, West Coast tourism operators have demonstrated great resilience and innovation.

DWC’s tourism team has had a productive year working with operators and promoting the region through creative campaigns. This work was acknowledged at the 2019 New Zealand Tourism Awards, with DWC taking home the ‘Industry Connections’ award.

We have also initiated the development of a destination management plan for the West Coast. This commenced with a scoping day facilitated by Kiri Goulter of MBIE, and was attended by over 30 key stakeholders, including representatives from DOC, KiwiRail, New Zealand Transport Authority, Tourism Industry Aotearoa, Ngāi Tahu Tourism and Christchurch International Airport Ltd. This destination management planning focusses on the future of not only the West Coast tourism sector, but also the wider regional economy and will play an important role in the recovery of region.

West Coast tourism spending

2019/2020: $480m

2018/2019: $502m

Source: MBIE

West Coast tourism employment

As at March 2019: 3,657

Source: Infometrics

Tourism year in review (infographics)
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