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Talking business

by Anthony Haas


Change at Destination Marlborough

April 22, 2009

Advertisements for a chief executive for Destination Marlborough (DM) are being placed seeking inquiries to the board, who will conduct the recruitment process.

Former DM ceo Dr Dominic Moran, after seven years in regional tourism organisations (rtos), decided he wanted to pursue a career in private enterprise, and gave the chair “ample warning – measured in weeks” he wanted to move on after Easter. There were no policy disagreements, and no pressure from either side says DM board chairman Mr Joe Ferraby.

Amongst the developments coinciding with DM’s management transition is the public consultation submission period, closing 7 May, on the Draft 2009-19 Marlborough District Council Community Plan (LTCCP).

Marlborough District Council (MDC) tourism activity is delivered by DM, a charitable trust and a “Council controlled organisation, established for the purpose of promoting and marketing Marlborough as a visitor destination to national and international tourism”.

DM’s vision is “by 2010, Marlborough will be recognised nationally and internationally as a preferred place for New Zealanders and people from overseas to visit, enjoy and experience. This will be achieved by a strong and coherent tourism sector....”.

Mr Ferraby, a Marlborough farmer and director of meat, wine, rural supply and finance companies, has been chair of Destination Marlborough for around two years. Acting DM ceo Tracy Johnston, a DM board member, is also marketing manager of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail she describes as an “international marketing initiative”, and marketed the 2008 launch of the Water and Wilderness Festival.

Does Destination Marlborough put enough into marketing?

“We have a limited budget, and seek the best results we can” says Mr Ferraby.
The financial resources DM gets are based on allocations from the MDC, and its targeted rate. Other revenues come from the International Marketing Group, a membership-based group limited to 25 Marlborough operators.

Support from operator advertising also assists with the development of the official Marlborough region website. Tourism New Zealand’s site directs visitors to it.

Internationally DM works with travel wholesalers and retailers to educate and improve their ability to sell Marlborough product to clients says Ms Johnston.

Mr Ferraby says DM aims to cooperate particularly with Christchurch, Kaikoura, Huranui, Nelson and Wellington “for the good of all our regions”. Ms Johnston adds that this collaboration is at an international level, not domestic marketing. We work closely with Nelson to market the top of the South in long haul markets, US, UK and Europe.

Talks are now being held with Positively Wellington Tourism for resourcing inclusion of a day, or day and night Marlborough components in greater Wellington packages.

Australia, UK and Europe are our primary focus says Ms Johnston.

Domestically Destination Marlborough focussed efforts this year on supporting AA’s campaign as well as producing and distributing the official visitor guide for the region which is available at i-SITE visitor centres throughout the country says Ms Johnston.

DM runs two i SITES, which, as do many other i-SITES, make a loss

Improvement of the Blenheim i-SITE is a matter MDC has said in its LTCCP consultation, is a matter for consideration.

Blenheim i-SITE enhancements, advocated in a recent Destination Marlborough submission to MDC, could include participation by Iwi, the Department of Conservation, Wine Marlborough and some other participants says Mr Ferraby. MDC’s LTCCP consultation summary says “the upgrade will provide an enhanced information facility with a cafe and retail space that can increase awareness of the local tourism offer, generate more income from sales”.

The Blenheim and Picton i-SITES are the commercial shop front of Destination Marlborough showcasing and retailing tourism product in the region says Ms Johnston.

Events management, says the draft LTCCP, is delivered by the Marlborough Festival and Events Trust. “The economic activity associated with events is becoming an increasingly important part of the regional economy, in particular the tourism sector. The main challenge
is to keep events relevant and interesting in times of changing population demographics.”

The local rto is looking forward to working with Marlborough for Fun, another MDC entity, to develop a regional events calendar.

In DM’s efforts to promote tourism it seeks more visitors during the “shoulder” seasons, the two months before and after the October to April peak season.

A new “winter warmers” campaign is an initiative developed by a group of operators in the Marlborough Sounds. Destination Marlborough has been working to help raise the profile of the campaign says Ms Johnston.

Destination Marlborough will again support plans to mount the Water and Wilderness campaign during Spring weekends this year says Mr Ferraby. Ms Johnston says the form and whether it will happen are subject to confirmation.

DM also invests in conference marketing, which provides a significant local spin off.

The draft LTCCP says the key issue facing DM is “how to ensure Marlborough’s tourism growth equals or exceeds national trends”.

Council and community stakeholders, as well as Destination Marlborough, are partners in influencing the outcome.

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