Visitors Help Drive Tararua District's Economy

Visitors to the Tararua District contribute an estimated 11 per cent to our economy and there are good prospects for growth in this important sector. 

The annual spend by domestic and international visitors to Tararua for the last three years has gone up from $47m in 2017 to $52m for the year ending March 2019.

The biggest spend is on fuel at $14m followed by $9 - $10m on food and beverages.

The Tararua District offers a slice of the genuine ‘people centred’ experiences those visitors seek, with the flow-on value to the Tararua economy being significant.

These are just a few of the details to be found in the Tararua District Visitor and Walk-Cycle Strategy and Action Plan adopted by Tararua District Council in September.  The Strategy and Action Plan, commissioned by Council, aims to guide the development of new and enhanced visitor experiences, encouraging visitors to stay longer, spend more and gain more enjoyment from our district’s attractions.

The Strategy and Action Plan was made possible as a result of a successful application to the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).  Council was able to combine the $60,000 PGF funding with $25,000 already allocated by Council in the 2018-2028 Long Term Plan to develop a cycle and walkway strategy for the district to achieve a broader outcome.

“The additional funding was crucial in allowing us to broaden the project to have an in-depth look at our visitor market,” explains Mark Maxwell, Council’s Economic Development and Communications Manager.

Council engaged Wellington company Henley Hutchings to do extensive research into what is needed in our district, resulting in the Tararua District Visitor and Walk-Cycle Strategy and Action Plan.”

Henley Hutchings undertook a number of workshops across the district to inform their work. Participants included councillors and Council staff, as well as representatives from our tourism sector industry and from across our communities.  Participants representing tourism sectors in our neighbouring districts of Wairarapa, Palmerston North and Central Hawkes Bay were also invited to attend the workshops and provided a valuable external perspective.

A separate cycle and walkway workshop with interested parties was also held.

A series of one-on-one interviews with key stakeholders were also conducted. These interviews included industry experts from outside the district to provide further external perspective.

 “Involving our neighbours and industry experts from further afield provides us opportunities to collaborate for mutual benefit in future” Maxwell said. “Visitors don’t tend to take any notice of territorial authority boundaries”

The Strategy and Action Plan provides suggestions for opportunities to grow Tararua District’s visitor market and these will be given further consideration in the months and years ahead. 

“Our aim is to keep working with existing attractions and events as well as seeking growth opportunities,” Maxwell said.

“While there are some optimistic and aspirational targets, Council needs to balance these against viability and affordability for ratepayers.”

However, Council does recognise the importance of facilitating growth in the visitor sector because it knows it will add resilience to our district’s economy through diversification, increased visitor spending and employment.

Maxwell said the Strategy and Action Plan validated current activities, while also looking at future activities and visitor markets. “It gives us encouragement that we’ve being doing the right things.” 

“One example is working with the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (NZMCA) and continuing that very successful key partnership.” In September, Maxwell and Tararua i-SITE Visitor Information Centre Manager Carole Wilton, represented the Tararua District at the NZMCA’s recent Motorhome, Caravan and Leisure Show at Mystery Creek in Hamilton for the first time. 

Attendance at this show compliments the Council’s regular attendance at the COVI Motorhome Caravan & Outdoor Super Show in Auckland each March.

“This is a growing market and Tararua is an ideal district for NZMCA’s members to visit. They are looking for something a bit different – those ‘off-the-beaten-track’ opportunities,”

The Motorhome Friendly Towns of Dannevirke, Woodville and Pahiatua are favoured locations in Tararua for NZMCA members, with interest growing in the smaller towns of Eketahuna, Norsewood and Pongaroa.   Off-the-beaten-track locations at Herbertville and Akitio are being increasingly visited by those who have a bit more time and ‘good intelligence’ about the attractiveness of those places.

A key to the Strategy and Action Plan will be extending the length of time people stay in the district, as well as attracting people who haven’t visited here before.

“Many new permanent residents were a visitor first,” says Maxwell.                       

“We’re starting to see NZMCA members selling up in higher priced parts of New Zealand, buying themselves a ‘home base’ in Tararua and touring the country; a welcome outcome for the district.”     

Are you a Tourism Operator?                   

The Tararua Tourism Network is keen to encourage new members. The group’s next meeting will be held at the Dannevirke Fantasy Cave in November. The meetings connect operators and provide opportunities to share information. Contact Carole Wilton, Manager of the Tararua i-SITE, on 06 376 0217 to take part.

Visitor Impact on Tararua District’s Economy

  • Tararua had 5,700 international visitors in 2018 – but not necessarily staying overnight.

  • It’s estimated Tararua had between 120,000 and 130,000 domestic visitors during 2018 – not accounting for visitors to the district who were in transit to locations outside Tararua.

  • 25 per cent of domestic visitors came from Wellington; 25 per cent from the Manawatu; 15 per cent from Auckland; 10 per cent from Hawke’s Bay; five per cent each from the Wairarapa and Whanganui.

  • With a visitor spend of $52m a year (to March 2019), the sector contributes 11 per cent to the Tararua economy. (Assumes a multiplier of 1.7)

  • Visitors spend $14m on fuel in Tararua.
  • Between $9m and $10m is spent on each of retail food/beverage, served food and beverage and other retail expenditure.

<< Back to News(Posted on: Tuesday, 8 October 2019)