Wildfoods festival big earner for economy

Brian Phelan and Rebecca Dore at the 2012 Wildfoods Festival. Photo / Supplied
Brian Phelan and Rebecca Dore at the 2012 Wildfoods Festival. Photo / Supplied

The Hokitika Wildfoods Festival contributed $6.5 million to the Hokitika economy this year, a new report has found.

Business and Economic Research Limited (Berl) said 90 per cent of those attending the March 10 festival came from outside the West Coast.

The study concluded that the festival added $6.5m to the local economy, and $3.4m to Westland's gross domestic product (GDP).

Westland District Mayor Maureen Pugh said at the weekend, the report highlighted the wide range of benefits Wildfoods had for the local economy and wider region.

"We're very encouraged that the festival is bringing so much into the Westland district. The festival brings in significant dollars, supporting businesses and jobs, while also creating fantastic national and international awareness for the region's tourism industry."

The report estimated that the festival created 54 fulltime equivalent jobs and tourism operators earned $5m as a direct result of the festival.

Westland's population swelled in March with 14,100 people.

Festival organiser Mike Keenan said the report also confirmed that community groups running stalls at the event raised more than $110,000 collectively.

"Being able to raise so much in a single event is a significant help for groups who have to work very hard for every fundraising dollar," Mr Keenan said.

People came from across the globe for the festival, with 27 per cent of people coming from the North Island and 5 per cent from overseas.

Mr Keenan said that was a larger international audience compared to other events in New Zealand, such as Womad in Taranaki and the International Arts Festival in Wellington.

"It's very encouraging that the Wildfoods Festival is attracting people of all ages and demographics to the region from all over New Zealand and right around the world."

Berl found that visitor satisfaction with the festival was high, with 89 per cent of attendees either "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with their Hokitika festival experience.

"Those numbers show us that not only was the festival great for our region, it was thoroughly enjoyed by visitors as well. That sends a great message to the rest of the country that the Westland district can deliver an amazing experience," Mr Keenan said.

- APNZ

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