Forecast looking fine for tourism operators

It may have been another bleak day outside yesterday.

But the forecast was still pretty good inside as regional tourism organisation Tourism Hawke's Bay gathered industry representatives together for a shakedown on what has happened in its first year as a regional council fund over the last year and for a look at what's in store for the next year.

The message came from chairman George Hickton, who said he believed accommodation and other tourism businesses had "had enough" of negativity driven by arguing and criticism in the industry and were ready for a positive front in the competition between destinations for slices of New Zealand's $23 billion tourism cake.

"All these people are working very hard," he said after a two-hour session with about 120 members at Mission Estate's chapel.

They "want" and "need" the leadership and confidence of a regional facilitator, he said.

And in answer to a question about why a regional organisation was needed instead of "destination" representation (as in Napier, Hastings, and Wairoa), he said the regional structure was the only approach to take.

He highlighted the prospects of taking advantage of the spinoff of near-neighbour regional involvement in the Hobbit movies and the influence New Zealand is now having on the global movie industry.

There were no major announcements, although Mr Hickton revealed discussions had taken place with Air New Zealand representatives and other tourism interests earlier in the day for a a possible arrangement for Hawke's Bay as a "unique" destination for inbound tourists.

Tourism Hawke's Bay communications manager Vicky Roebuck highlighted the rapidly developing influence of new communication tools, including a relaunched website which had resulted in some remarkable increases in traffic from the mobile market.

One indication was the increase in "unique" visits to the site, up 473 per cent.

Perhaps the organisation's own new promotion, the Food and Wine Classic in November, is one example of the power of the new communication tools.

A Google search for the word "FAWC" in combination with "Tourism Hawke's Bay" last night threw up 9600 results, even though the organisation isn't due to start meeting the FAWCers until a launch it is staging in Auckland next week.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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