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Soaking it up . . . Miao-Hwa Wong (left), her son Hung-Ju (Nelson) Chou and husband Chih-Jen Chou, all from Taipei, Taiwan, enjoy the sun at Oamaru Harbour last week. PHOTO: HAMISH MACLEAN

The year to June 30 has been described by Tourism Waitaki chairman Mike McElhinney as an “active” one for the organisation.

Mr McElhinney, Tourism Waitaki director Adair Craik and general manager Jason Gaskill presented the Waitaki District Council-controlled organisation’s annual report at a meeting of the full council last week.

Highlighted in Mr McElhinney’s report were the major projects the organisation had undertaken during the financial year, including the May opening of Victorian-themed tourism attraction Whitestone City in the Victorian precinct, a joint venture between Tourism Waitaki and the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust with support from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Others included developments at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony and on the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail.

The layout of the penguin colony building had changed, a new research laboratory had been built and a rehabilitation centre for the birds had been established on site.

Work now being completed would provide an “improved experience for visitors who come outside evening viewing hours”, Mr McElhinney said.

On the cycle trail, new sections had been opened through Enfield, while work to develop further plans for track improvement and moving more sections off-road continued.

Tourism Waitaki had also started a consultation process for a review of the District Tourism Strategy.

One of its key priorities was establishing a district-wide communication platform to provide “channels of communication between interested local bodies and Tourism Waitaki”, the report said.

Guest nights in the Waitaki to June 30 totalled 405,864, down 4% on the previous year.

International guest nights (171,739) were up 17% but domestic guest nights (234,1240) fell 15%.

The average length of stay went up from 1.51 nights to 1.55 nights.

The district’s industry spend increased to $175 million (from $164 million), which was attributed to increased spending on visitor attractions and hospitality and fuel services.

At the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, ticket-sale growth was 11%, which contributed to an 13% increase in surplus.

To June 30, the colony reported revenue of $1.505 million, up from $1.374 million the previous year.

Overall, Tourism Waitaki posted an after-tax surplus of $48,416, a figure Mr McElhinney said was “modest”.