Waikato upcoming tourist hotspot

Hamilton Press - - FRONT PAGE - GARY FAR­ROW

A ma­jor board meet­ing by Tourism New Zealand was held in Hamil­ton last week, en­dors­ing the Waikato’s rel­e­vance as a grow­ing tourism des­ti­na­tion.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion’s board and parts of its core lead­er­ship team also toured some of the re­gion’s pri­mary tourist at­trac­tions.

‘‘It was a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity to show­case our re­gion to the Tourism New Zealand board, and share some of the op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges we face as an emerg­ing visi­tor des­ti­na­tion,’’ Hamil­ton & Waikato Tourism chief ex­ec­u­tive Ja­son Dawson said.

‘‘We were able to show­case our re­gion’s iconic Wait­omo Glow­worm Caves which has been a visi­tor at­trac­tion for 129 years, as well as one of our ‘younger and de­vel­op­ing’ des­ti­na­tions, Hamil­ton Gar­dens.’’

Dawson said leisure and busi­ness tourism was con­tribut­ing $1.511b to the re­gional econ­omy an­nu­ally.

That ranks the Waikato the fifth most lu­cra­tive re­gion in the coun­try for tourism, be­hind Auck­land, Welling­ton, Christchurch and Queen­stown.

Tourism New Zealand chief ex­ec­u­tive Stephen Eng­land-Hall said the as­pects of the Waikato the board and lead­er­ship team ex­pe­ri­enced were im­pres­sive.

‘‘Hamil­ton & Waikato is a good fit for Tourism New Zealand’s re­gional dis­per­sal strat­egy which fo­cuses on en­cour­ag­ing visi­tors to ex­plore out­side the main tourism des­ti­na­tions and dur­ing the shoulder sea­sons,’’ he said.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion plans to help re­gions’ tourist rev­enue to in­crease by $1b per an­num from 2023 to pro­mote sus­tain­able and ben­e­fi­cial growth for the econ­omy of the coun­try.

‘‘In­for­ma­tion is the key to in­form­ing smart in­vest­ment in tourism in­fra­struc­ture and prod­uct devel­op­ment de­ci­sions and we are really ex­cited to play more of a role in this,’’ Eng­landHall said.

‘‘The in­for­ma­tion will also be used to in­form cam­paign work, mar­ket­ing and sto­ry­telling work­shops for in­dus­try to en­sure visi­tors in­clude Hamil­ton & Waikato into their hol­i­days.

‘‘Tourism New Zealand want to help the Hamil­ton & Waikato re­gion grow by $1 bil­lion per an­num by de­vel­op­ing, im­ple­ment­ing and pro­mot­ing strate­gies that are re­gion­al­ly­fo­cussed and align with gate­ways like Auck­land which con­nect the re­gion to the world.’’

Hamil­ton Mayor King and Wait­omo Mayor Brian Hanna, and ma­jor Hamil­ton and Waikato tourism stake­hold­ers, at­tended a din­ner at the con­clu­sion of Tourism New Zealand’s visit.

Ja­son Dawson, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Hamil­ton & Waikato Tourism, was pleased to host Tourism New Zealand’s visit to Hamil­ton. Stephen Eng­land-Hall

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