Plea to capitalise on tourism
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.’’