Plea to cap­i­talise on tourism

The Invercargill Eye - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD DAV­I­SON

Re­gional tourism bod­ies are get­ting it right for new op­er­a­tors, but could still be do­ing more to cap­i­talise on a grow­ing South­land tourist mar­ket.

That’s the opin­ion of Lynda Jack­son, co-owner and man­ager of the Lands End Bou­tique Ho­tel and Oys­ter Cove Restau­rant & Bar, at Bluff’s Stir­ling Point.

Div­ing head-first into hos­pi­tal­ity when an op­por­tu­nity to take on the Oys­ter Cove Restau­rant arose in 2014, Bluff na­tive Jack­son, hus­band Ross, and par­ents Anne and Morry Trow soon found them­selves ac­quir­ing the neigh­bour­ing five-room bou­tique ho­tel when it too came up for sale just months later.

A fam­ily af­fair from the out­set, the Jack­sons - at the time res­i­dent in Dar­win - har­nessed the skills of son and chef Strat­ten to man­age the restau­rant while they made their way back across the ditch.

Launch­ing into a mini hos­pi­tal­ity em­pire from abroad with no sub­stan­tial pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence in the in­dus­try might have been a tall or­der for some, but not for the un­flap­pable Jack­son.

‘‘It’s been a huge learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, but with the help of fam­ily and lo­cal bod­ies like Ven­ture South­land it’s gone rel­a­tively smoothly,’’ she said.

Since the ho­tel was closed down when they ar­rived, there had been no for­mal han­dover of rou­tines or pro­cesses. That had meant even sim­ple tasks like buy­ing ho­tel toi­letries needed to be worked out from scratch.

‘‘We had no con­tacts, no sup­pli­ers, noth­ing. For­tu­nately we’ve had some won­der­ful lo­cal staff to help out, but we’re still learn­ing new things ev­ery day.’’

Re­gional devel­op­ment agency Ven­ture South­land had been in­stru­men­tal in pro­vid­ing guid­ance around lo­cal mar­ket pric­ing and on­line mar­ket­ing, and in es­tab­lish­ing net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, Jack­son said.

‘‘They’ve been very sup­port­ive in terms of help­ing place us on the global map, and in the pub­lic con­scious­ness.’’

How­ever, Jack­son be­lieved pub­lic bod­ies could still be do­ing more to cap­i­talise on a grow­ing South­land tourist mar­ket, by con­sol­i­dat­ing and fos­ter­ing fur­ther at­trac­tions for the re­gion.

She pointed to the un­der­de­vel­oped Bluff ter­mi­nus of the 3000km Te Araroa tramp­ing trail, ex­pected to see more than 400 walk­ers this year.

‘‘We’d like to see some­thing to ac­knowl­edge their huge achieve­ments.

‘‘They’ve spent months trav­el­ling from Cape Reinga. Why can’t we give them a medal, shout them a drink and make a fan­fare for them?

‘‘We could be mak­ing more of what we have nat­u­rally avail­able in South­land.’’

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