Waimakariri MP puts the focus onto tourism in Waimakariri
North Canterbury is well equipped to market itself as a significant tourist destination, Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey says.
Doocey and Kaikōura MP Stuart Smith hosted Parliamentary Private Secretary for Tourism Jacqui Dean in North Canterbury recently to look at the region’s outdoor/adventure tourism, wine tour sector and the agricultural/farm stays tourism industry.
Doocey said figures from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show, over the year to March 2014, international tourists spent $90 million and domestic tourists spent $220 million in North Canterbury.
“On a national level, tourism is our second biggest export earner. North Canterbury has some major natural attractions, some great destinations and some economic strengths – and we should be capitalising on that and defining our tourism into key areas for marketing,” Doocey said.
“I was really impressed with our visit to the team at Farm to Farm Tours. Waimakariri has a proud history in farming and it was great to hear about the value for our farmers to visit other countries and learn about innovative and value-added approaches to farming overseas. Equally, as New Zealand is a world leader in many areas of the farming sector, many farmers are visiting New Zealand to learn about our world-leading farming practices – and spending money in our local regional economies,” Doocey said.
Wine tourism was another major attraction to the region, Doocey added.
“The New Zealand wine sector is not only a rapidly growing exporter but also a key player in domestic and international tourism. Whether it be a day trip from Christchurch or a stop-over on the circuit of the South Island, North Canterbury is fortunate to have award-winning vineyards on its doorstep.”
However, Doocey said some local tourism operators were being challenged by the loss of the cruise ship berths at Lyttelton Port. “Cruise ships are now docking in Akaroa. Added travel costs in getting visitors to North Canterbury and back to Akaroa is affecting business.”
Doocey said the draft Lyttelton Port Recovery Plan was approved last week by Environment Canterbury commissioners for presentation to the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, the Hon Gerry Brownlee. “The Minister will be inviting written public comment and I’ll be looking to support local tourism operators in getting their views across.”
Adventure tourism on the Waimakariri River, which was a great asset to attract domestic and regional tourism, had built up a strong client base from the cruise ship industry before the earthquake events, Doocey added.
“We need to work together as a region, so that changes put into play as Christchurch redraws itself don’t adversely affect Waimakariri,” Doocey said.