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New challenge . . Margaret Munro, the current general manager of Earth & Sky at Tekapo, has been appointed general manager of Tourism Waitaki. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

New Tourism Waitaki general manager Margaret Munro is “very familiar” with the Waitaki district and what it has to offer, which she plans to use to her advantage later this year.

She was appointed to the role last week, replacing Jason Gaskill, who in August announced his intention to stand down after nine years with the council-controlled organisation.

Mrs Munro, who will start on March 12, is general manager of astro-tourism business Earth & Sky, based at Lake Tekapo, where she has been working since 2008.

Before that, she spent almost 14 years with the South Canterbury District Health Board as a business analyst and finance administrator.

The Waitaki Tourism board said in a statement Mrs Munro “brings proven regional tourism experience and the board are excited with the skills that Margaret will bring to this critical role, which includes business development at a domestic and international level, strategic and financial planning, marketing and event management”.

Mrs Munro told the Otago Daily Times last week she was thrilled with her new job.

“I’m excited to actually be able to promote a whole region rather than just one individual business, as I’m doing at the minute. That was really enticing, just to be able to use the skills I’ve built up at Earth & Sky.”

She believes the district’s tourism industry is in a “good place” and Waitaki has “massive” tourism potential.

“It’s got some amazing gems and some iconic products .. that you can’t find anywhere else in New Zealand.

“There’s the diversity of the district as well, going from the mountains and the snow to the ocean and the beaches, and everything in between.

“You’ve got the nature side with the little blue penguins and the iconic architecture.”

district’s tourism operators and other industry players to get a feel for how the sector operates in Waitaki.

She looked forward to working with Tourism Waitaki’s staff to “get a clear, good marketing direction going” and capitalise on the district’s growing tourist numbers.

“Often in an area if you’re in it for a long time you overlook some of these attractions.

“Through the eyes of a tourist they see things as having value and we see them as just everyday things. It’s about recognising what the eyes of a tourist see as what you would call a hot spot and actually make them want to go out of their way to visit it.

“It’s playing on that and really getting to know your market.”

Mrs Munro grew up on a farm at Ikawai on the north side of the Waitaki River and was educated in Waimate.

She spent several years in the North Island before returning to the South Island.

Her husband Peter taught at Mackenzie College in Fairlie for 31 years.

The couple have four adult children.

“We’re both sort of at that point now where we’re looking forward to a bit of a change of scenery and a change of lifestyle,” Mrs Munro said.