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Caroline Bay

by Chris Tobin

The Timaru district now has a “visitor promotions specialist” and a new draft tourism visitor strategy.

Up until June 30, the Timaru District Council contracted its tourism marketing, known as Aoraki Tourism, to Experience Mid Canterbury of Ashburton for about $100,000 a year.

That ended after the council decided to go in-house and create a new position of visitor promotions specialist as part of its communications team.

Among the draft strategy’s recommendations are:

Appointing a sector leadership group by the end of June 2020.

Improving events in the district.

Developing a Timaru district information pack.

A digital strategy targeting the domestic market.

Improving visitor hubs.

Kate O’Connell, a marketing specialist with a background in digital, social media management, tourism and graphic and web design, has been appointed to the position. Ms O’Connell launched the Waimate District Council’s website and social media marketing in December 2017.

One of her tasks is to deliver a new visitor strategy for the Timaru district, a draft of which was viewed by the council’s community development committee on Tuesday. The strategy was researched and prepared by Auckland firm Visitor Solutions.

Statistics show the tourism spend in the Timaru district totalled $220million in the 2017-18 financial year, of which 78% ($172million) was domestic and 22% ($48million) international.

A council report to the community development committee said bed nights in the district had plateaued since 2016 despite growth in tourism numbers, suggesting the district was “currently a place people stop and refresh rather than stay”.

The majority of the international visitors to the district were Australians (26%), followed by theBritons (13%) and Chinese (7.95%).

The strategy identified challenges such as a lack of effective sector collaboration and leadership as well as inadequate visitor infrastructure, facilities and services across the district.