Being motorhome friendly was seen as a huge tourism boost for two South Taranaki towns last week.

Hawera and Opunake were officially welcomed into the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association's (NZMCA) nationwide Motorhome Friendly scheme last Thursday at a reception at the South Taranaki District Council in Hawera.

Taranaki motorhomes members met with South Taranaki Mayor Ross Dunlop and councillors to hand over two certificates to the council acknowledging Hawera and Opunake as New Zealand's 46th and 47th Motorhome Friendly towns.

NZMCZ chief executive Bruce Lochore said it was a move which would bring a healthy boost to tourism spending in the Hawera and surrounding areas

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The two new locations bring the number of Motorhome Friendly towns in Taranaki to three and along with the two NZMCA Parks in the region (in Hawera and New Plymouth) show the association's drive to share the benefits of motorhome tourism, without adding extra strain to local facilities or heaping extra costs on local ratepayers, he said.

"Our members enjoy the South Taranaki district and travelling here in Certified Self-Contained vehicles, and staying (when possible) in our own NZMCA parks will take pressure off local facilities while still bringing motorhome tourism dollars into the area.

" It's important to stress that all this is being done at no cost to local ratepayers. The establishment of the parks and the promotion of the Motorhome Friendly towns is funded entirely by the NZMCA. so it is a win-win for everyone," he said.

"Official recognition as Motorhome Friendly will encourage more of our members and international visitors to stop, stay and spend. And for motorhomers, the towns' status as Motorhome Friendly is a clear indication that they can expect a warm welcome, "he said.

The Motorhome Friendly status offers significant economic benefits to participating communities by attracting more NZMCA members and other tourists in Certified Self-Contained vehicles.

This is at a time when tourism in this country is enjoying an unprecedented boom, Mr Lochore said.

"We believe it's vital that the benefits are not confined to the traditional tourist 'hot spots' but are shared with councils and communities.

"NZMCA members love to travel and enjoy a wide range of events - airshows, music festivals, wine and food festivals, cycle rides, fishing contests, walking weekends, gardening festivals - you name it," Mr Lochore said.

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"To encourage more attendance at such events, we have initiated a calendar of activities and events - which we have worked with to ensure they all offer free or low-cost overnight parking nearby - to promote to our members. This offers a great opportunity for communities like Hawera and Opunake to jump on board with their events and share in the benefits."