Tourism recovering from cyclone with help from Govt grant
A local tourism boss says there’s a case for optimism as the industry gets back on its feet with the help of a newly announced $200,000 cyclone recovery grant.
Destination Hauraki Coromandel general manager Hadley Dryden spoke with the HC Post about what the $200,000 cash injection, announced by Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni on her visit to Thames last week, will do to help the recovery of tourism on the peninsula.
Sepuloni announced the cyclone recovery grant to the Thamescoromandel District Council that aims to boost awareness of the Coromandel as an option for holidaymakers.
Many business operators are on edge thanks to a triple blow of spoiled summers on the back of Covid shutdowns and cyclones that brought flooding and destroyed arterial routes like State Highway 25A — used by travellers to access the delights of the eastern seaboard.
The grant has been received and Dryden said the first step is to
“work with Thames Coromandel Council on the deliverables”.
Dryden added that the overarching priority for Destination Hauraki Coromandel is to “build confidence back in the market,” and he said the organisation aimed to continue the momentum of their current winter campaign that highlights hidden natural hot springs, art galleries and the relatively calm waters of the east coast, making it perfect for kayak trips. DHC will be looking to “ramp up things from October for the summer” said Dryden, who sees no need to alter the marketing strategy which encourages tourists to follow the SH25 trail route and take in the attractions of some towns that are often bypassed. “SH25 is the showpiece, so nothing really changes in terms of the way we promote the Coromandel,” Dryden said. “We are going to encourage people to do the road trip anyway.”
He added that independent and overseas travellers had more often followed the SH25 route. Local business owners spoken to in Waih¯ı by HC Post reported an anecdotal increase in tourism since SH25A became unpassable. “There are always going to be those that like to shoot over the hill (25A)” said Dryden, whose message to people considering taking a Coromandel getaway but are apprehensive due to roading concerns, is to “take a little bit of time, to get off the computer or iphone and spend that time getting to a destination where you can have that ‘good for the soul’ experience.”
The February cancellation of the Whitianga leg of the Summer concert series promoted by Greenstone Entertainment and the subsequent announcement the concert will not take place again in 2024 was “another blow” said Dryden. In a statement to the NZ Herald on May 30, Greenstone Entertainment CEO, Amanda Calvert said, “We love the Coromandel region,” and noted they have a 10-year agreement in place with Thamescoromandel District Council for the Whitianga Summer Concert. Despite that, Greenstone made the decision that they “were unable to commit to a 2024 concert in the area due to construction on State Highway 25A’s new bridge and have come to an agreement with the council that a one-year break will allow time for the planned new infrastructure to bed in”.
However, Destination Hauraki Coromandel’s summer campaign will be active from October, and Dryden said they are hoping to “build that momentum through summer and into the shoulder season” — which should coincide with the opening of the new SH25A bridge in autumn.