Bay events draw foreign interest

By Roger Moroney, Sam Hurley

An increasingly global flavour and foreign interest is evident at the region's flagship events. Photo / File
An increasingly global flavour and foreign interest is evident at the region's flagship events. Photo / File

International interest in the Bay's signature events has the potential to deliver a massive financial boost to the local economy, business leaders say.

The record-breaking 2014 Tremains Art Deco Weekend is on the brink of receiving huge exposure across the United States with a group of travel agents who attended seeing the region as a major travel destination.

Seven US travel agents and members of a 20-strong international media team which attended the Art Deco celebrations all went back with more than they had anticipated, Art Deco Trust general manager Sally Jackson said.

Two of the Australian journalists who arrived said they had planned to do one major story about the whole event.

"They left with about 10 and will be putting them out to several different publications," Mrs Jackson said. The agents and media were brought out as a result of funding to the trust from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Major Events Development Fund.

"They were looking for somewhere outside the usual destinations to sell to their customers and see the weekend as a major hook. They were very impressed with what they saw."

Next month's acclaimed NRM Horse of the Year Show could also see foreign funds pouring into Hawke's Bay as business partnerships continue to be forged between Beijing and Hastings with a Sino delegation attending next month's event.

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said the Chinese party, including riders, business owners, professors and media, will only strengthen a growing relationship between the two countries.

"As the Chinese become more westernised and more middle class they will look for, like many New Zealanders, things such as their own horse.

"With this delegation coming for the Horse of the Year, there is the opportunity to develop partnerships for exporting high quality animals, and opportunities

Bay events draw

foreign interest

Editorial, p10for riders, trainers and veterinarians."

Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wayne Walford said Hastings' sister city relationship with the southern Chinese city of Guilin was also incredibly valuable for the partnership.

"The Chinese market is huge and changing all the time, but what we are seeing is more Chinese coming to New Zealand with high amounts of disposable income," Mr Walford said. "When the delegation came and toured the wineries they spent a lot."

"It's important to discover how we can best leverage off that, and build on the trust created, making sure the relationship feels comfortable between both sides."

He said the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement has been "fantastic" and generated a high turnaround of business opportunities.

The treaty came into force in October 2008, after three years of negotiations, and liberalises and facilitates trade in goods and services, while also aiding business cooperation between the two nations.

"Obviously we will work hard with this connection at Horse of the Year," Mr Yule said. "It's the biggest equestrian event in Australasia and one of the best around the world, there is a huge upside there."

Horse of the Year show director Kevin Hansen said after the delegation was announced on Wednesday night: "If we nurture this relationship, it can only be beneficial for the New Zealand equestrian industry, as well as helping the Chinese in growing theirs."

The current Horse of the Year show already generates just over $12 million for the local economy.

Mrs Jackson said with Art Deco Weekend visitor numbers exceeding the 35,000 drawn to the city last year there was a big rise in the benefits for the local hospitality industry and retailers.

At a de-briefing session staged by the trust on Wednesday night members heard how cafes, hotels, restaurants and retailers reported an average 20 per cent jump in takings compared with last year.

"Especially those retailers who came up with Art Deco themes.

"The trust is not a commercial entity and does not set out to make money but what we want to see are benefits it can bring about to the local economy - and it has done that."

She said when the Art Deco weekends first started the target had been to simply highlight the heritage of the city.

"Now it has become so much more and so essential to so many people - they [businesses] are telling us it is better than Christmas."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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