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Talking business

by Anthony Haas


Tourism, wine and aquaculture

Jan 14, 2009

Havelock is strategically located near Marlborough’s potential growth tourism attractions - wilderness, water, wine and seafood. Havelock’s trademark is the Greenshell Mussel Capital of the World.

One Havelock businessperson who is keen to foster local development, but recognizes the limited resources small businesses can contribute, would like the Marlborough District Council to convene a forum to assemble ideas for tourism development.

If the authorities hear her call, they could reinforce and be reinforced by good things happening.

“There is a need for better coordination in the tourism industry and better networking with other economic sectors to promote tourism in the region”, according to more than half the respondents reported in Seafood New Zealand magazine’s report on what’s happening with tourism and seafood in the Top of the South. Only a third agreed “the marketing efforts for our region are well coordinated”.

Coordination calls for local as well as national leadership, and the willingness of people to lean over their fences to people in their neighbourhood. Under normal conditions, coordination is important for tourism development. Under current difficult conditions, it could help to concentrate limited marketing fire power on domestic and other markets that might hold up.

Events, trails, good governance and other cooperation show what can be done.

On 21st March Havelock will have its fifth annual Mussel Festival, one of a growing number of events in the Destination Marlborough area created by people working together.

Pelorus and other Sounds’ wilderness and water attractions, to be promoted for the October slow season for the second time by a group fostered by Portage Resort, are readily accessed from the growing marina in Havelock.

The neighbouring wine trail concentration of wineries and restaurants on the “Great New Zealand Wine Trail” is only 20 minutes drive from Havelock. There are more attractions and jumping off points within an hour’s drive or boat ride.

Now that the Havelock Service Station is reopened people who get their essential services from the small port town are noticing visitors are stopping over again.

Tourism researchers and the Marine Farmers Association (MFA) are evaluating the linkages between seafood and tourism created by the Top of the South Aquaculture and Seafood Trail. The trail links 21 businesses, primarily in Blenheim, Havelock, Picton and Nelson, promoted through a brochure they helped finance and distribute.

However, strategic promotion of locally caught seafood through value-added tourism products and opportunities is relatively new for the Nelson/Marlborough region, a destination that is becoming increasingly recognized as a leader in wine and food tourism say Seafood New Zealand’s researchers.

They say the seafood trail can be an “innovative driver” for linking aquaculture, commercial fishing and tourism. The marine farms and commercial fishing ports are not commonly used to promote the area as a tourist destination.

“In addition, it is somewhat difficult to purchase fresh local seafood other than in restaurants, even though this is New Zealand’s most important salmon and mussel farming area” the researchers say.

Locals do not believe “their region has received adequate technical and financial support on tourism and industry trends in the past”.

However, some individuals and organizations in, around and affecting Havelock are working at building events, trails, investments and other forms of cooperation.

The Marine Farming Association, whose CEO has suggested marine farming of blue cod in Pelorus, has presented some options worth considering by others.

Destination Marlborough has recently brought a representative of Wine Marlborough onto its board – a positive contribution to expanding the focus of both sectors.

Pelorus Promotions, with members operating geographically remote tourism accommodation, allied transport, retail and other services, is a logical early reference point for planning the agenda for a forum on tourism development for Havelock and its neighborhood. Marlborough Regional Development Trusts’ Regional Development Strategy provides guidance for cooperation.

Local authorities, their ratepayers and central government are amongst those who also need to decide whether they want the Marlborough District Council to build up its tourism investment.

“Tourism is an industry that the government believes has the capacity to help the country weather the international recession" associate tourism minister Jonathan Coleman said on 8 January 2008.

Could a Marlborough District Council tourism development forum – and preparatory work on its agenda – foster more productive coordination – and local ingredients in a bold national tourism plan of action Tourism New Zealand wants to discuss with the Prime Minister?

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