Call for $500k to sell Napier as tourism jewel

By Corey Charlton

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Hawke's Bay Tourism is requesting $40,000 in annual funding from Napier City Council.

Tourism industry representatives have also called for Napier specific investment to fix what they say is a gradual decline in the city's tourism.

Several called for $500,000 in funding to promote Napier - what they described as the "hub" or the tourism "jewel" of Hawke's Bay, while Hawke's Bay Tourism general manager Annie Dundas was requesting funding from Napier and other councils, to continue its regional tourism brand work.

The requests were raised yesterday at the Napier City Council's 2012/13 - 2021/22 Draft Ten Year Plan submission hearing.

Ms Dundas was requesting $40,000 of reallocated funds to be used for securing a permanent regional event manager, the economic evaluation of events, development funding for events, and event funding. The same amount would be requested from Hastings District Council, and $25,000 was to be requested from Central Hawke's Bay District Council and Wairoa District Council.

Ms Dundas said it was required if the region wanted to be "serious about attracting new events", and to help boost current events.

"There are a number of events that already exist in Hawke's Bay, but [we] need that little bit of a lift," she said.

Later in the day, Napier Tourism Association convenor David George argued industry best practice was to market Napier as the Hawke's Bay tourism "hub" from which surrounding areas would benefit.

"At the end of this, we do have to look at whether the regional marketing model is sustainable - and if it is - it is the only place in the world that it is," he said. Hawke's Bay Tourism was stuck on a brand development model and "batting with an arm tied behind their back".

Westshore Beach Inn managing owner Jeremy Bayliss said as a tourism operator, he felt "disengaged". He asked the council to become more involved in the city's tourism sector, including providing $500,000 of funding.

"In the last month or two, I've been talking to a lot of people in the industry, and people in the industry are very much keen to work with you," he told the council.

"Napier is the jewel of Hawke's Bay, and I just think that we need to refocus on that."

Although Napier specific tourism initiatives could fit within a regional framework, he felt "Napier should take care of itself, and it should engage itself with its own operators".

Napier Motel Association president Tim Stephens also suggested $500,000 of funding be put towards promoting Napier tourism.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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