RUAPEHU A KEY PLAYER IN DEVELOPING REGIONAL TOURISM
Leaders in tourism met in Ruapehu last week to map out how the visitor industry is going to take full advantage of its potential in the Manawatū-Whanganui region, and deliver sustainable economic growth.
The workshop was part of the Regional Action Plan programme called Accelerate25, established to realise the findings of the Manawatū-Whanganui Regional Growth Study. The Regional Growth Study was released in August and identified tourism as one of the region’s big economic opportunities, particularly in Ruapehu and surrounding areas.
Hosted by Ruapehu District Council with co-programme directors, HenleyHutchings, the workshop aimed to identify the key actions needed to achieve a vibrant, authentic and sustainable, year-round visitor industry.
“The workshop encouraged open discussion of a wide range of sector opinions, and what regional leaders in tourism need to do to capitalise on the opportunities ahead,” said Mayor Don Cameron. It highlighted the need to take a long term strategic approach to the issues that the sector faces.”
“This includes thinking in terms of natural assets and not political boundaries.”
While tourism was identified as one of Ruapehu’s key growth opportunities, it was clear that ensuring the sector’s long-term success requires a broad regional vision. This would include the development of tourism packages that focus on Ruapehu’s offering alongside a wider regional experience.
The council has established a Tourism Project Group made up of key industry operators to take the ideas and opportunities identified at the workshop forward. This focus group will develop Ruapehu-specific opportunities, as well as working to integrate with the regional tourism opportunities identified by Accelerate25.
The Project Group has the goal of developing a report by April 2016 for the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, to see where they can partner with Visit Ruapehu on these opportunities.
Mayor Cameron said that council had high aspirations for the Ruapehu visitor industry.
“Our commitment of $230,000 of economic development funding to support Visit Ruapehu led projects highlights our belief in investing in this sector and its importance to Ruapehu’s future,” he said.
“This funding will be used to undertake research to better understand what visitors think and feel about Ruapehu as a tourist destination, to create a modern digital platform for promoting Ruapehu, develop regional trade offerings and marketing efforts of our two NZ Cycle Trails,” he said.
Mayor Cameron added that Ruapehu was very pleased to be able to play an important role in developing regional tourism opportunities.
“As mayor I am committed to being part of the active regional leadership that will be required to successfully enact the Regional Growth Study’s recommendations.” he said.
“Success will require connection and engagement from all stakeholders, and so I invite and encourage everyone to get on board with the Accelerate25 programme, to take Ruapehu, and the Manawatū-Whanganui region forward into a new and exciting phase of tourism growth.