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A new promotional video to raise the profile of Oamaru and the Waitaki district in the domestic tourism market was launched this week.

Oamaru and the Waitaki district are being showcased on Neat Places, a website and app listing things to do and see in a select number of cities and towns in New Zealand.

The campaign to feature Oamaru and Waitaki received up to $16,387 from the Waitaki District Council’s Covid-19 economic resilience fund and was also funded by featured local businesses, chosen by Neat Places.

Oamaru restaurateur Yanina Tacchini and artist Helen Riley-Duddin initiated the promotion by applying for the funding from the council’s $2 million support and stimulus package.

Mrs Riley-Duddin said she had followed Neat Places for many years, using it as a “cool, go-to” tool to discover new places when travelling around New Zealand.

“From our perspective, small businesses in the region had suffered, obviously, with the loss of international tourists [due to Covid-19], but also there was a great opportunity to work more with domestic travellers,” she said.

“We also knew that the council was wanting to attract more families to move to the area, and young professionals.

“It was a really good fit and it turned out to be a really easy process in the end – and Neat Places was really excited to showcase the Waitaki district.”

About 15,000 Neat Places “pocket guides” to Oamaru and Waitaki have been printed and distributed around the district and the country, a promotional video has been released, and the district is also being showcased on the Neat Places website, app and social media sites.

Waitaki District Council business attraction and recovery manager Mel Jones praised Mrs Riley-Duddin and Mrs Tacchini for initiating the promotion.

All too often, Mrs Jones heard visitors say they wished they had stayed longer in the Waitaki district.

“They don’t know how much there is to discover here,” she said.

“I think this will give them the opportunity to go ‘you know what, there’s heaps to do – not just in Oamaru, but across the district’.

“Hopefully they’ll base themselves here … and they’ll spend a couple of nights and take some time to explore.”

Oamaru and Waitaki’s Neat Places campaign would run for a year, with new content released regularly, and the council would consider extending funding for it next year if it was successful.

“For me, it’s about encouraging more people, more visitors to want to come and explore our district – but it’s equally about helping locals see what they’ve already got in their backyard and encourage them to go out and spend some time discovering some new places they might not be so aware of.

“I think that’s got to be a good thing for us all.”

It had also been a good opportunity for local businesses to collaborate, Mrs Riley-Duddin said.

“It looks really collaborative, businesses working together, but people feel that too,” she said.

“I’m so pleased that we could make it happen and the council have been really supportive.

“There’s so much more that the region has to offer and that could have been involved, too – but there’s always other years, as well.”