By Bridget Gourlay
Tourism – is there a more enjoyable way for a region to make money?
Just nab visitors from around the world and present a place where they want to spend time (and subsequently dollars), experiencing the sights and sounds, past and present, all the while getting to know the locals.
Groups from the Hawke’s Bay think so, and a recent tourism think tank consisting of 20 creative thinkers and entrepreneurs with investments in Hawke’s Bay met earlier this year to see how they could attract more regional visitors.
The answers turned out to be reasonably straight forward, in-line with current capabilities and surprisingly sensible. First up on the menu was wine.
In 2001, the ‘Hawke’s Bay Wine Country’ brand was successfully launched, drawing attention to the beautiful vineyards and award winning wine that comes from this area.
Hawke’s Bay is New Zealand’s oldest wine region in New Zealand with beginnings in 1851. By the early 1920s, several wineries, including famous ones that still operate today, were all established in the region.
The soils and climate that produced such excellent wine a century ago continue to grow fantastic wines today. It is now New Zealand’s second largest wine region and the largest premium red wine producing region in the country.
The think tank, which consisted of people from the tourism industry, the wine and food industry and local entrepreneurs decided the Wine Country brand, run by not for profit industry group Hawke’s Bay Wine Country Tourism Association (HBWCTA) needed to be re-emphasised.
A marketing survey to find out more about who visits the Hawke’s Bay and why is being developed so businesses can learn more about their market.
Another key project underway is the advancement and implementation of a regional events strategy.
HBWCTA executive officer Megan Harris says more visitors equals more money in the local economy, more jobs for locals and a happier region.
“Events are a key driver for a longer visitor season. Giving people a reason to visit outside of their standard holiday cycle can really help make our tourism industry more viable, and therefore benefit the whole region, by bringing in spenders from outside Hawke’s Bay.”
Harris says they are going to engage a professional events consultant to develop a strategy. She says while some of these could be food and wine based, there are other exciting opportunities such as marketing the fun sporting events often held in Hawke’s Bay’s fine weather.
If all goes to plan, there will be more visitors in the Hawke’s Bay from New Zealand and all over the world – with a glass of wine in hand.