Campaign launched to bring tourists back to Bay of Plenty

By Graham Skellern -
Donations from the charterers of the grounded ship Rena may be used to help promote more tourism to the Bay of Plenty. AP Photo/Maritime New Zealand
Donations from the charterers of the grounded ship Rena may be used to help promote more tourism to the Bay of Plenty. AP Photo/Maritime New Zealand

The regional council and the charterers of grounded ship Rena will urgently consider funding a new tourism campaign aimed at attracting an influx of visitors to the region.

John Cronin, chairman of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, told the Bay of Plenty Times he would raise the issue with his councillors at their last meeting of the year in Tauranga tomorrow.

Tourism Bay of Plenty executives yesterday briefed Cronin on the campaign, which aims to restore the coastal Bay of Plenty's reputation as a great holiday destination after the grounding of the Rena in early October.

Cronin said $250,000 had been put aside for the Rena disaster, similar to the amount made available for the Christchurch earthquakes, and the money had not yet been spent.

"I will ask the councillors 'can we make a difference to the Bay of Plenty by contributing to the tourism industry?'

"I saw the first draft of the campaign and I liked the proposal," he said.

Christchurch-based Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) NZ general manager Phil Abraham indicated his company would look at contributing a portion of its $1 million donation towards the tourism campaign.

The company hasn't decided how that money will be distributed, whether it should go directly to the region or indirectly through central government.

"We want to be fair to everyone; we don't want to be put in the invidious situation of contributing to one party and not the other," Abraham said.

Outgoing Tourism Bay of Plenty chairman Graeme Marshall has already contacted Abraham about making a presentation about the campaign.

Abraham and Australia and New Zealand managing director Kevin Clarke will meet Tourism Bay of Plenty as soon as practicable.

"I think the campaign is a good idea, it involves more than one entity, and the whole region will benefit," Abraham said.

A decision on how the money would be distributed should be made in January.

MSC, which operated the container shipping service involving the Rena, is making the voluntary donation of $1 million because it was "saddened by the environmental damage, economic impact and disruption to lives caused by the accident [on Astrolabe Reef]".

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said his council could look at a campaign contribution by making an allocation from the targeted levy on the business community.

He said the timing was right and the council could put it in the annual draft budget, which would be prepared early next year.

About $500,000 is required to unleash the full effect of the campaign involving television, radio, print media and online advertising and marketing.

The series of ads, lasting between 20 and 60 seconds, would involve locals being filmed at their favourites haunts and actors taking up the role of tour guides through the region.

The theme is "It's not called the Bay of Plenty for nothing" and the imagery can be interchanged between plenty of beaches, fishing, shopping, wineries, golf courses, hiking, surfing, events, accommodation, cafes and restaurants and attractions.

Local operators have praised the latest campaign and said they would starting using the new logos and branding on their own websites and in newsletters to customers.

Rebecca Crosby, general manager of Papamoa Beach Top 10 Holiday Park, said the campaign captured the region and it was so adaptable.

"I hope they can get the funding and roll it out in its entirety. The tourism industry in this region has needed a good brand for a long time."

Stuart Arnold of Dolphin Seafaris said the campaign would bring everyone together and make an impact.

"I was pleasantly surprised with the concept. I liked the catchy phrase 'there's plenty to do in the Bay' and it would let people know we are open for business and totally recovered."

Leanne Brown, manager of Mount Mainstreet, said she would create images of "plenty of shopping in the downtown" on Facebook and on her organisation's website. She would also talk to her board about sending out campaign posters to their members, a mixture of retailers, cafes and restaurants, and businesses.

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