Ruapehu on show at i-Site conference

By Aaron van Delden

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TEAM EFFORT: Staff at the Ohakune i-Site have been awarded a Qualmark customer service award. PHOTOS/AARON VAN DELDEN
TEAM EFFORT: Staff at the Ohakune i-Site have been awarded a Qualmark customer service award. PHOTOS/AARON VAN DELDEN

Ruapehu has been awarded the 2017 national i-Site Visitor Information Network conference.

More than 120 delegates from i-Sites throughout New Zealand are expected to attend the forum and experience first-hand the activities and sights on offer in the district.

"The i-Site conference is a major opportunity to showcase everything Ruapehu has to offer to industry professionals whose job it is to advise travellers on what to see and do," said Ruapehu i-Site manager Kim Treen.

"A big part of the conference is the delegates undertaking famils, which is the tourism industry term for tourism sales and marketing staff experiencing activities and seeing first-hand what a region has to offer so that they can better recommend Ruapehu to people."

Ruapehu was one of several i-Sites vying to hold next year's conference and its success was announced at the national i-Site conference held last week in Cromwell, where the Ohakune i-Site was also awarded a Qualmark customer service award.
Ms Treen said the conference and the Qualmark award reflected a lot of hard work from her team.
"Ruapehu's i-Site staff are all really passionate about the district and what it has to offer, and that comes through in their interaction with customers," she said.
There were more than 120 delegates from i-Sites throughout the country finding out all about Central Otago at this year's conference.
"Next year those 120-plus delegates will be finding out all about what Ruapehu has to offer," said Ms Treen.
Ruapehu mayor Don Cameron said the awarding of the conference and the Qualmark customer service award went hand in hand with Ruapehu's growing profile as a tourism hotspot.

Ruapehu was appointed as the lead agency in helping to identify regional tourism opportunities that now form part of the Accelerate25 Manawatu-Whanganui Economic Action Plan programme.

"An economic impact study has shown that successful implementation of the plan could increase the region's GDP by $66 million by 2025," said Mr Cameron.

Visit Ruapehu's general manager, Claire McKnight, said the district was increasingly becoming a year-round destination with virtually no off season.
She said tourism expenditure, measured through electronic card transactions, was still at its peak over the winter months. However, the warmer months were producing great results.

In 2015 spending during each quarter grew year-on-year. During the fourth quarter it was up by 16 per cent and it was continuing its upward trend at the beginning of this year.

"There's no doubt Ruapehu is benefiting from the great work Tourism New Zealand are doing offshore but ... the domestic market is providing much of our growth," said Ms McKnight.

"Ruapehu appeals to Kiwis. It's an outdoor destination just south of Lake Taupo, within easy reach of Auckland and Wellington, that has an abundance of family-friendly and also more challenging activities."

Meanwhile, Mr Cameron said the council had been trialling the placement of an official i-Site in the Department of Conservation Visitor Centre in Whakapapa Village, which was a New Zealand first.

"The success of this trial has seen the council commence discussions with the Army Museum in Waiouru about placing an i-Site inside the museum."

He said the council's investment in tourism infrastructure, such as the i-Sites and Visit Ruapehu, was key to growth in the district's tourism sector.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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