Tourism riding high on West Coast as Tourism Summit approaches

 Tuesday, August 29, 2023 


The West Coast is experiencing a surge in tourism, and residents believe ‘the Summer of the Coast’ is just around the corner.

The region was heavily damaged by the epidemic, and as tourists returned, it struggled to attract employees.But things are looking good, and on Thursday, operators will gather in Greymouth for a sold-out hui to exchange ideas, brainstorm, and plan for the season ahead.

Development West Coast is one of the primary organizers of the second annual hui.

Last summer, the West Coast was in strong demand, surprise and gratifying tourist operators after a difficult few years.The forthcoming summer also has a lot of people excited.

According to Nick Rogers of Greymouth’s Monteith’s Brewery, companies are nervously enthusiastic, especially now that the employment market has eased and it is simpler to hire workers.

“It’s quite nice now when you put an advert on TradeMe to get more than three or four applications, where as six months ago, you wouldn’t get any. That’s the big one for us, is actually getting the right people in place for the summer period.

“Because January, February, March, for us, the turnover is double what it will be in June, July August, and this year, it’s actually looking stronger than ever.”

The West Coast Tourism Summit this week brings together local companies as well as Tourism New Zealand, Christchurch Airport, and Air New Zealand.

Rogers was looking forward to the hui, which he described as a chance for businesses to catch up, collaborate, and keep informed.

“We are a little bit isolated at times but knowing what the forward loadings are for Christchurch Airport and things like that just gives us a little bit of a knowledge or confidence going into the summer, knowing that we are going to be busy and where the pinch points are going to be.

“And then also meeting the other suppliers and inbound operators so making sure what we’re delivering is up to expectation.”

Tourism expenditure recovered quicker than expected following the pandemic’s peak, according to CEO Heath Milne.

“We had a $63 million increase in the year ending June to the previous year, which was obviously a Covid year.

“But that actually equated to even higher than 2019 figures which was obviously pre-Covid so 8 percent higher than pre-pandemic levels for the year ended June this year, so very much a rebound.”

The region’s main challenges, according to Milne, are locating staff housing, high interest rates, and compliance expenses.However, he stated that pre-bookings were looking positive.

The multi-million-dollar Pounamu Pathway is a partnership with local rnanga and Development West Coast to construct four exhibition centers that employ interactive multimedia technologies to explain the region’s tales and promote its culture.

The Greymouth facility is expected to open before Christmas.

Toko Kapea, chief executive of Pounamu Pathway, stated that the Westport facility will not be long behind.

“It’s obvious that if we can provide an experience that touches their hearts and minds, shows them what the Coast is all about, shares our stories, we will hopefully have our first suite of people that will go back to their regions, to their countries and tell their friends and family, ‘you have to go to the Coast’.”

Businesses on the West Coast expressed confidence that they will be able to put their best foot forward this summer.

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