Bay tourism feedback receives internet boost

By Roger Moroney

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While tourist numbers had fallen away in recent months Hawke's Bay Tourism has been buoyed by the amount of global exposure the region has been picking up online and in overseas print media.

In its latest activity update, Hawke's Bay Tourism's general manager Annie Dundas noted visitor numbers across the county were generally down.

"For a variety of reasons - and, unfortunately, Hawke's Bay is not immune to this."

But there was optimism that recent hostings of national and international media groups and personalities would result in visitor numbers getting a push along.

One which had sparked a large amount of online response was the visit to the Bay last November by one of Australia's most influential food bloggers, Lorraine Elliot.

She operates under the tag-name of "Not-Quite Nigella" and was hosted by Tourism Hawke's Bay for visits to farmers markets, wineries and to experience Napier's Art Deco.

Online responses to her visit were glowing. One blogger called "Nessie" posted: "Went to Napier as a kid and could only appreciate the McDonald's - think it's time we went there as grown-ups to see the pretty buildings."

Another, "Erin", said: "Stunning. I didn't know Napier was like that - I can't wait to visit one day."

Dozens of responses to Ms Elliot's profiles of the markets and wineries like Elephant Hill were equally glowing.

Her blog attracts 190,000 users a month.

Ms Dundas said Hawke's Bay Tourism had hosted 16 trade and tourism groups from across the US, Europe and Australia since the start of the year. The region scored a major tick from USA Today's Anne Banas who declared the Hawke's Bay Farmers Market was among the top 17 such markets in the world.

Ms Dundas said Hawke's Bay Tourism had a string of projects "on the go" including working in with regional partners to grab a greater slice of the Australian market.

Part of that had seen Air New Zealand offering $179 one-way flights from Australia's eastern cities to Napier, via Wellington.

Planning was currently under way on a major Food and Wine Classic events series this November.

A "refreshing" of the site had resulted in an increase in hits, Ms Dundas said.

Between March 5 and June 5 there had been 51,150 visits to the site with 197,974 page impressions.

"We are pleased with these results so far and expect these to get even better with our planned ongoing enhancements."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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