Minister encourages change
The South Waikato was given the thumbs up by National MP Louise Upston as a prime location to help solve a shortage in accommodation for tourists.
At a recent community forum held in Tokoroa the Taupo MP said the district needed to seriously look at how to get a ‘‘slice of the pie’’.
‘‘You don’t need to think Tokoroa needs a four star hotel and who’s going to come along and build it,’’ she said.
‘‘We need to think what is unique about our area and how do we design accommodation that fits with that?’’
She used Cambridge as an example, saying most of the accommodation started with Bed and Breakfasts, Homestays and Farmstays.
‘‘Rather than try and deviate from what is fundamental to the district how do you use that as an advantage?’’
Councillor Herman van Rooijen said he was interested in how small communities could benefit from the shortage after a presentation from Hamilton Waikato Tourism.
With tourism being the biggest export earner Upston said there were opportunities for farmers.
‘‘This district is the most centrally located to mostly everything. You name it you can do it from this district as well as enjoying the very natural facilities and river very few people know exist.’’
She said locals needed to accept the ‘‘up’s and down’s’’ that came with the economic growth.
‘‘That may mean you as a local having to park a bit further away to do your shopping.
‘‘That’s a trade-off that a community needs to be in conversation about as oppose to the worst thing would be to let the opportunity go by and find out the next district over had one a better job.’’
Upston said she wanted those involved in a Bay of Plenty Growth Study, a central and local government initiative, to come down from Auckland to the South Waikato.
She said the popularity of the Te Waihou Blue Spring was a ‘‘good problem’’ to have.
‘‘It has to be a community conversation around do we keep this a certain way or do we manage for growth. It does create a challenge.’’