Hawke's Bay councillors, tourism bosses and business owners are wooing Wellington as they plan a new post-coronavirus visitor push.

Hawke's Bay Tourism presented its post-coronavirus strategic plan, dubbed by one as the "Bay-cation", at a virtual Hawke's Bay Regional Council meeting yesterday, stating the capital was the prime target for tourism.

While many regions will turn to Auckland to reignite their tourism trade, chairman George Hickton said, "We're going to go south".

"Tourism is at the forefront of the economic damage caused by this virus," he said. "At alert level one, we expect travel will pick up quite quickly - but don't expect air travel to feature heavily.

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"We've always thought Wellington holds a unique opportunity for us, and even more so at the moment."

Hickton added: "There is pent-up travel demand right now. They are desperate to get out of their household, out of their bubble and out of their region."

While about a quarter of the region's tourism spend comes from international tourists, the remainder comes from domestic visitors.

Hawke's Bay Tourism Chairman George Hickton said many regions will turn to Auckland to reignite their tourism trade, while HB will look south. Photo / File
Hawke's Bay Tourism Chairman George Hickton said many regions will turn to Auckland to reignite their tourism trade, while HB will look south. Photo / File

The initiative would kick off once domestic travel resumes under alert level one.

"Effectively, we are probably the best options Wellingtonians have got. And we can dominate this market much more easily than any other," Hickton said.

"We don't expect to have a lot of competition in this environment. Our plan is to use our budget and dominate the Wellington market in promoting Hawke's Bay as the best destination."

Hawke's Bay Tourism chief executive Hamish Saxton said the concept of the campaign focused on the idea of a "Hawke's Bay-cation".

"A short break to beautiful Hawke's Bay would be highly desirable," he said. "It might be a cycling Hawke's Bay-cation or a food and wine Hawke's Bay-cation.

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"Hawke's Bay will be unavoidable if you are in the Wellington area."

Part of the proposal featured "a letter to Wellington", a proposed open invitation for those from the capital to take a trip to the region.

Black Barn Vineyards co-owner Kim Thorp backed the letter.

"It'd be great to kick the campaign off with a letter to Wellington from Hawke's Bay," he said. "The great thing about focusing on just one area is that we can be big and bold.

"We like the idea of personalising it to Wellington, so everything is 'Hey Wellington', so they know we are talking to them and not a generic tourism campaign."

Thorp added: "Being an ex-Wellingtonian myself, we have to be really careful about how we trash the weather or make it sound like it's better here."

HBRC Deputy Chair Rick Barker questioned if the open letter to Wellington was friendly enough. Photo / Paul Taylor
HBRC Deputy Chair Rick Barker questioned if the open letter to Wellington was friendly enough. Photo / Paul Taylor

Not everyone believes the open letter is the way forward though, with HBRC deputy chair Rick Barker questioning the sentiment.

"It made it seem to me that if I was in Wellington, that we didn't really know you," he said. "Whereas I would have thought Wellingtonians are very familiar with Hawke's Bay and are like old friends.

"I thought that is more a pitch on the emotional side of this. People make decisions emotionally. not logically. That is what we do."

But, HBRC chairman Rex Graham said he backs the Wellington-focused campaign.

"Targeting the Wellington economy is quite a smart move, given that it's an economy heavily based on salaries," he said. "It is an economy that won't get as hit as others I would think."