The Hamilton and Waikato region cemented its place as an emerging tourism destination by hosting the board of Tourism New Zealand recently.
The Tourism New Zealand Board and some members of its Core Leadership Team held a board meeting in Hamilton earlier this month, and toured a couple of the region's tourism attractions.
Hamilton and Waikato Tourism chief executive Jason Dawson says leisure and business tourism is now booming and contributing $1.511 billion into the regional economy annually, fifth behind Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.
"It was a fantastic opportunity to showcase our region to the Tourism New Zealand board, and share some of the opportunities and challenges we face as an emerging visitor destination," said Mr Dawson.
"We were able to showcase our region's iconic Waitomo Glowworm Caves which has been a visitor attraction for 129 years, as well as one of our 'younger and developing' destinations, Hamilton Gardens," he said.
Tourism New Zealand chief executive Stephen England-Hall was impressed by what they experienced, and were especially wowed by the Hamilton Gardens.
"Hamilton and Waikato is a good fit for Tourism New Zealand's regional dispersal strategy which focuses on encouraging visitors to explore outside the main tourism destinations and during the shoulder seasons," says Mr England-Hall.
He said Tourism New Zealand is keen to help regions grow by $1 billion per annum from 2023 to ensure that growth is sustainable and enriches New Zealand.
"Information is the key to informing smart investment in tourism infrastructure and product development decisions and we are really excited to play more of a role in this.
The information will also be used to inform campaign work, marketing and storytelling workshops for industry to ensure visitors include Hamilton and Waikato into their holidays." .
"Tourism New Zealand wants to help the Hamilton and Waikato region grow by $1 billion per annum by developing, implementing and promoting strategies that are regionally-focused and align with gateways like Auckland which connect the region to the world."
The visit culminated in a dinner with Hamilton Mayor Andrew King and Waitomo Mayor Brian Hanna, and major tourism stakeholders.