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Steaming ahead . . . Jan Kennedy (left) and Aoife Smyth are excited about attending the Trenz conference in Dunedin next week. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

Oamaru’s unique attractions will fight for their share of the spotlight at the massive Trenz conference in Dunedin next week.

Steampunk HQ will be joined at the conference by Pen-y-bryn Lodge, the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail, Whitestone City, Tourism Waitaki, the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, and Cycle Journeys.

Trenz, starting on Monday and finishing on Thursday, is the New Zealand tourism industry’s international trade show, and a huge opportunity for businesses and attractions to capture an audience.

Jan Kennedy and Aoife Smyth will represent Steampunk HQ and are looking forward to the conference.

“We look at it as an opportunity to market our destination and to support them in marketing the Waitaki District as a destination and a reason for people to come to this area,” Mrs Kennedy said.

This year is the first time the conference has been held in Dunedin, so the Oamaru presence at Trenz will be significant.

“In talking with Tourism Waitaki, we realised it was an opportunity not to be missed,” Mrs Kennedy said.

To join the conference – which features nearly 400 international marketers – businesses have to be approved by the Tourism Industry Association.

Steampunk HQ was using the conference as an opportunity to investigate new packages for tourist operators, Mrs Kennedy said.

“We’re looking at extending the way we offer our products by having guided tour options and photo steampunk dress-up opportunities.”

Businesses needed to be able to develop a product that people wanted to buy, she said.

“When you’re working with trade, you have to be able to offer a product that they will buy because they take a commission and therefore it has to be quite a substantial product.”

The steampunk culture was an important part of Oamaru because it was unique to the town, she said.

“There is nothing like it, to our knowledge, in the world.

“That uniqueness is an amazing selling point.”

Now was time to take Steampunk HQ to the “next level”, she said.

“This gives us the opportunity to open our product up a little bit more.”

She also looked forward to the learning opportunities the pair could have at the event.

“For us, we’re going to be learning at Trenz. It’s new for us.

“I guess, for me, the opportunity is going to be to interact with all the people that are there.”

Ms Smyth believed Oamaru had evolved into a destination that tourists were going out of their way to visit.

“What we hear from people that come in is Oamaru used to be just a town where people stopped off and went to the toilet on their travels,” Ms Smyth said.

“Now people are coming to stop off and are coming specifically to Oamaru.”