A spike in domestic tourism is predicted for the Waitaki district this summer.
Tourism Waitaki general manager Margaret Munro said there was an increase of visitors in the past school holidays and she expected it to be “reasonably strong” during Christmas and New Year.
“A lot of people are going to be touring with their families, or couples – and that’s promising,” Mrs Munro said.
“I think we will still see a peak . . . with families taking the opportunities in the Christmas and New Year breaks to get out and about.”
It meant there could still be a reasonable boost to the Waitaki economy, even without international tourists due to Covid-19.
Regional tourism spend data showed a $1 million difference between August last year and August this year, which was “pretty good, considering”.
“That’s the domestic tourism spend.
“I think there’s a lot of regions that are pleasantly surprised with the volumes of New Zealanders travelling, it’s blown us away, and they’re spending money.”
North Island visitors were already coming to the area and there was a big uptake in those using campervans.
“They are really the people that get into the nooks and crannies of New Zealand and go exploring.”
Outdoor walking tracks, including Puketapu Hill, Herbert Forest, Trotters Gorge, Ahuriri and Ohau, were going to be more popular.
“There’s some awesome country.”
A big drawcard in Waitaki was the lakes, and the Omarama Hot Tubs, Clay Cliffs and Moeraki boulders would be busy, too.
In Oamaru, the Blue Penguin Colony remained popular, and the Victorian precinct area was “really coming into its own”, along with Steampunk HQ and Whitestone Cheese, she said.
“The food side is getting a really good reputation for the excellent quality of local produce … we really punch above our weight with the number of cafes and restaurants and very high quality ones.”
However, hospitality venues tended to shut during the summer period, due to an increase in costs.
“From a business perspective you want to know the visitors numbers are going to be there to cover the costs and then from a visitor’s perspective there’s nothing more disappointing than making your way to a town and half of it’s closed – that will never give a place a good reputation.”
It would take the whole community to support its local food establishments during this time.
“If locals can use them, as well as visitors, it just helps cover those costs.”
Tourism Waitaki unveiled a new campaign this month, titled The One Who, for people to envision themselves as the person completing the venture in the picture.
It encompassed a range of sectors in the Waitaki district, from food and activities to heritage and various locations.
“It’s a campaign to interact with businesses and individuals . we’ll spend November rolling that out and getting quite a broad, national spread so we can get that reach as far wide as possible, with a lot of North Islanders travelling.”