Te Puke to get boost in China

By John Cousins

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Te Puke tourist operators are embarking on a trade mission to China despite having failed in their bid to break away from Tourism Bay of Plenty.

The town's economic development group, Te Puke EDG, has secured appointments with all eight of Tourism New Zealand's Shanghai-based premier kiwi partners.

Managing director Mark Boyle and director Graeme Crossman will also meet government officials in Xian Province following investor interest in the Rangiuru Business Park.

The two men fly out to Shanghai this week having failed to persuade the Western Bay District Council to siphon off $55,000 of its $170,000 annual grant to Tourism BOP for use by Te Puke EDG.

Mr Boyle told the council last month that Tourism BOP had failed to provide specific initiatives to help grow Te Puke's distinct "value proposition". He said Te Puke's combination of climate and soils allowed it to grow super-foods, with international brands such as Zespri and Comvita calling Te Puke home.

Western Bay Mayor Ross Paterson told the Bay of Plenty Times the council had taken on board Te Puke EDG's concerns but decided not to fragment its tourism promotion budget and would continue with its contract with Tourism BOP. If the council wanted to change the contract it had to give notice and could not axe the funding overnight.

Katch Katikati was also seeking an extra $46,000 from the council for its projects, with Te Puke and Katikati both seeking to market themselves with a brand that would appeal particularly to tourists from China - The Goodness Highway.

Mr Paterson said the council would be telling Tourism BOP that it wanted it to become more involved in Te Puke EDG and Katch Katikati. It wanted Tourism BOP to enhance its delivery of services to the two towns.

Mr Boyle said Te Puke EDG had grouped Kiwi360, Comvita, Aerius Helicopters and Kaituna Jets into a tourism cluster and set about repositioning itself under the 'Te Puke - Goodness Grows Here' brand.

He said international visitor marketing using the beaches, sea and harbours was not sufficiently different to resonate with tourists. Features such as these could invariably be enjoyed year round elsewhere in much more favourable climates.

"The incredible specific combination of climatic and soil conditions which produce world famous super-foods such as kiwifruit and manuka honey does rouse the interest and fascination of visitors," Mr Boyle said.

Mr Crossman is the managing director of Kiwi360.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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