This week I joined industry leaders in Wellington for the Tourism Summit Aotearoa 2020. A highlight on the events calendar for the sector, with not only Minister Stuart Nash delivering his first speech as the new Minister of Tourism, but also a range of international and national leaders sharing their insights in turbulent times.

 

Amidst the tough conversations, stark insights and bold visions for the future, the day provided great insight into how Aotearoa is responding to such a challenging and evolving environment. I am buoyed by the resilience and innovation across the sector, and wanted to share some key takeout’s and thoughts from the Summit with you:

• Once in a lifetime opportunity
This year has been unforgiving in the ramifications across health, wellbeing and our economy. Finding silver linings amongst the chaos is vital if we are to use this opportunity to pause, reflect and grow brighter and bolder than before. Now is the time to truly activate and recreate Aotearoa’s visitor sector, leveraging the incredible innovation we’re renowned for and planning for a better future.

• Integrated approach to developing the sector
Hearing from Grant Webster, Tourism Holdings Limited CEO and Co-Chair of the Tourism Futures Taskforce, was a refreshing reminder on the importance of building the visitor sector so that communities thrive. Taking a systems based view across infrastructure, business models, communities, pricing and experience based product is essential to future proofing our regions and Aotearoa as a whole, so that the value to the visitor is equal to that of the host community. Summed up by travel writer Sarah Bennett “If we create a better place to live, we create a better place to visit.”

• Partnership between government and industry
Reinforcing the above point, it was reassuring to hear the discussion focused on the importance of collaboration and partnerships. Collaboration is vital for the visitor sector and economy if we are to come out the other side of this in a better position than before. Collaboration across the region, and within the region and meaningful partnerships across businesses, industries and communities is what will help us build experiences that cross the domestic and international divide and build resilience through a collaborative approach to attract visitation and enhance the livability of our part of Aotearoa.

• USP is Key
The latest insights from Tourism New Zealand into what domestic tourism means and what kiwis are seeking. Rest and relaxation are the top drivers for travel, and reconnecting with loved ones remains a high priority – both positive news for Palmerston North city and Manawatū, and reflects the content, media and campaign activity underway. For our region, visiting friends and whanau has always been a strong visitor market so it’s important we all work together, collaboratively, to celebrate and share the best of Manawatū and encourage our communities to welcome visitors in with open arms.

• Am I a tourist?
If I have learnt one thing over the last year, it’s that Kiwis want to be visitors in their own country, but definitely not tourists. The word tourism invokes an often-visceral response in kiwis, with images of litter, crowded spaces and high pricing coming in to play. It is important to remember, that we are ALL visitors every time we step foot outside of our region. It’s not just about visiting an attraction, it’s about going to an event, buying a coffee from the local café, getting a spot of shopping in – it’s all to New Zealand’s visitor economy. It’s about inviting your friends and whanau over for the weekend, to spend some time exploring your piece of Aotearoa – right here in Manawatū.

I am optimistic about the future and the opportunities that lie ahead, and being in a room of 300 people at an event is a timely reminder that although it’s a challenging time, we are in the best place in the world to weather this storm. I believe that we as the Manawatū region can leverage and build on the opportunities in front of us if we work closer together, enhance our partnerships, and build upon our shared values and visions. Together, we can grow for the benefit of our communities. He waka eke noa.

I want to end with a quote from Greg Foran, Chief Executive of Air New Zealand, who was the keynote speaker at the summit:

“You get to choose your team, how you play, the tactics you choose. You don’t get to choose the weather. Control the controllable and play with the very best people you have.”

Janet Reynolds

Ngā mihi nui,
Janet Reynolds
Marketing and Communications Manager,
CEDA

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