Contributions sought for planning Central Otago’s Tourism Future!
Central Otago communities are being invited to shape what their tourism future will look like by getting involved in the development of a Destination Management Plan for the region.
Central Government has funding and tasked regional tourism organisations around New Zealand to develop destination management plans that encapsulate the thinking of their communities. Tourism Central Otago (a division of Central Otago District Council) in partnership with mana whenua has activated this project, with significant background research, engagement with thought leaders and other partners already underway.
“We live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, where visitors are privileged to enjoy experiences aligned with our unfakeable assets. If you, your partner, your children, your extended family, your business colleagues or community group friends have talked about ‘what next ...’ or even ‘I wish...’ this is a chance to play a role in mapping out something very special,” said Central Otago District Council Chief Executive Sanchia Jacobs.
Independent market research company Angus & Associates is now reaching out to find people from all walks of life and all corners of the Central Otago district. These people will contribute to discussions at Tourism Futures Workshops in focus groups to capture and understand how our communities want to see tourism evolving in the next 10, 20, 30 and up to 50 years and beyond.
Registrations are open now until 17 October 2021 and can be made on the form at www.centralotagonz.com/destination-management so that the research company can ensure there is cross representation within each focus group.
The workshops will be followed by an online community survey to provide statistically reliable data that will be used to inform the directions in which tourism could develop across the sub-regions of Central Otago.
“Central Otago should not just wait and see what the future will bring,” said Tourism Central Otago General Manager Dylan Rushbrook. “Now is the time to have robust discussions to frame up a living vision and pathway to the best possible future of tourism for this region.
“This is not about a marketing plan – there is a focus on ensuring tourism is developed to create versus deplete value for the environment, communities, people who work in the visitor industry and consumers. It is about understanding people’s aspirations and putting in place a vision for the future that your children and grandchildren will be proud you were a part of. And importantly, it is how tourism links in with other sectors of the economy – in Central Otago’s case, horticulture, viticulture, farming and construction.
“It is essential that whatever the future holds, it is grounded in what the community wants, not necessarily what a distant strategist, policy maker or those with loud voices and strong opinions think,” said Mr Rushbrook.
Ms Jacobs said the current Destination Management Plan’s creation builds on the Central Otago Regional Identity.
“Some 15-plus years ago, the people of Central Otago gathered to try and encapsulate what it is about this region that they valued. This was the birth of the regional identity – Central Otago – A World of Difference – underpinned by a set of values. In many ways this was Destination Management part 1 – well before other places realised how important it was to a community’s future.
“So much has changed since then, tourism volumes grew exponentially and began creating challenges for many communities, the effects of climate change were regularly seen, and then there was a global pandemic which changed lives all over the world. All these things have challenged people’s thinking and perceptions for what the future could or should be.”
In 2018, a new long-term tourism strategy to guide the development of tourism across Central Otago was adopted with an ambition of doubling the value of tourism versus a singular focus on driving volume. The strategy identified the need to develop a masterplan both to optimise the value of tourism and to mitigate the impacts of unplanned growth.
Current indications are that travel will begin to re-activate and ramp up around the world from 2022. Therefore, this project has a deliberately short timeframe to achieve a destination management plan that is ready for implementation in the first half of 2022.