The recently formed Tourism Central Otago advisory board met in Roxburgh last week.
The advisory board facilitated two opportunities for operators to meet with them and in addition had the opportunity to partake in the Roxburgh Gorge Trail, one of Central Otago's premium visitor experiences. This gave members of the board from out of the region a true feeling for the authentic, unique experiences and landscapes the region offers.
More than 30 tourism stakeholders attended the events in Roxburgh, where the board gave an update on major projects and some key initiatives moving forward.
Board Chair Sue Sullivan said a key theme to come from the meetings was "the power of collaboration".
"Central Otago and our operators are too small to be heard as individuals, but when we all come together we have a powerful voice and a unique and strong value proposition."
The 2018-28 Tourism Strategy key performance indicators (KPIs) were confirmed, and the document will soon be made available for public release. The strategy provides the overarching framework for the future of tourism in the Central Otago region, and has given the Tourism Central Otago (TCO) team, advisory board and Central Otago District Council a clear focus.
A key initiative that was discussed at the meeting was Tourism Central Otago being a signatory to a Memorandum of Understanding, which forms the Lower South marketing alliance. The alliance sees regional tourism agencies come together, along with the major airports in the lower south region. This alliance will be the largest of its kind in New Zealand and enable each stakeholder to have a stronger voice in both domestic and international markets in the future.
Operators were updated on recent progress TCO has made with the Central Otago Touring Route. The strategy clearly identifies touring routes as a key piece of tourism infrastructure that helps guide visitors through a region, but more importantly help them discover special and unique features that will encourage them to stay longer and spend more money within the region.
"We've got the touring route basics already, and high level agreement from our neighbours in Queenstown and Dunedin," said Acting General Manager for Tourism Central Otago Dylan Rushbrook.
"Now it is just a matter of getting down to the nitty gritty and establishing something that draws visitors through the region, with key points of interest along the way. The ultimate is that the touring route drives a change in behaviour, and visitors rather than driving straight through the region, stay multiple nights and get a real sense for just how special this place is."
"We are also very aware that tourism can bring both positive and negative impacts on a host community. The tourism strategy has a firm emphasis on developing a destination management plan that takes a long term vision of creating a visitor economy that the local community embraces."
The Board's intention is to create opportunities to engage as widely as possible with the tourism community throughout Central Otago. The next Tourism Advisory Board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 12 June and will be held in Cromwell.