From the dizzying heights when tourism was New Zealand’s number one export earner, representing 20 per cent of all exports pre-Covid, before falling to just 2 per cent in the year ending March 2021*, only the toughest tourism operators with a strong domestic offering managed to remain in business while our aviation and maritime borders were slammed shut.
Fortunately, the Coastal Bay of Plenty’s appeal as a favoured holiday destination held its own as every region turned its attention to a captive domestic audience that had little choice but to spend time in Aotearoa.
Here at Tourism Bay of Plenty, the team continues to work with operators and partners to find innovative ways to not only maintain ‘top-of-mind’ awareness as a domestic destination of choice, but to also encourage Kiwis to do more, stay longer and spend more while they’re in our region.
What’s become clear is the absolute relevance of our strategy Te Hā Tāpoi | The Love of Tourism, which we co-created with iwi, stakeholders, tourism operators and our local community in 2019.
Taking a regenerative view of the broader Coastal Bay of Plenty region and the destination management issues we face has not only positioned us well in the face of uncertainty, but has also enabled us to better identify and partner on projects that genuinely resonate with our key funders and the host communities we serve.
Some examples include:
- The successful launch and delivery of the Flavours of Plenty brand and its inaugural festival (7-10 April 2022), reflecting one of the four Place DNA® pillars in Te Hā Tāpoi (horticultural provenance). In addition, we have also launched the Matariki Dish Challenge to share our region’s innovative cuisine stories during the most culturally significant time in our nation’s calendar.
- The commencement of a two-year integrated cycleways programme, adopting a trail-by-trail approach and using print and online resources to promote the region’s ever-expanding cycle trails network to users of all ages and abilities.
- Our Sure to Make You Smile digital marketing campaign, targeting domestic visitors. This campaign utilises a suite of fresh imagery, video and marketing collateral that align with our Place DNA®, including a deeper Te Ao Māori perspective, which is complemented by a vibing soundtrack from chart-topping Kiwi favourites and local band L.A.B.
- The launch of The Green Room programme to reduce carbon and waste emissions across the local tourism sector. Supported by Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council and delivered by Tourism Industry Aotearoa, this programme launched with a cohort of 19 visitor sector operators in Waihī Beach and Katikati and we expect it will support and educate up to 100 businesses and organisations in the first two years.
- The establishment of the Tauranga Cruise Working Group, featuring key stakeholders (private and public) that are collectively focused on the sustained return and improvement of the cruise visitor experience in Tauranga and the wider region.
The final highlight has been our organisation’s realignment to become ‘fit for purpose’ to deliver all these new and exciting expectations of our funders, stakeholders and host communities.
We make no apology for prioritising delivery over theoretical aspirations, which means we’re taking a dual approach to destination management and destination marketing.
We now have a genuine opportunity to demonstrate how a destination that is well-networked and managed can utilise tourism to enhance the environment, regional economies, Māori and community wellbeing.
With the reopening of international borders and the new norm for business continuing to evolve as we all learn to live through Covid, it’s a great time and a privilege to be working collectively to enrich our people and place through tourism.