New challenge . . . Steampunk HQ manager Jan Kennedy is the new Waitaki Tourism Association chairwoman. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

Leading the Waitaki Tourism Association (WTA) at a time when the “entire tourism industry has been turned on its head” presents a few challenges for Jan Kennedy.

However, given Mrs Kennedy’s enthusiasm and passion for the Waitaki district and the tourism industry, they are challenges she is embracing.

In November, Mrs Kennedy was appointed the new WTA chairwoman. She has more than 10 years’ experience in the industry, having worked as Tourism Waitaki’s events development officer from 2010 to 2014 and managed Steampunk HQ for the past seven years. She also owns and operates several Airbnb properties.

“I enjoy the challenges of being involved in tourism projects that are innovative and different and I gain great satisfaction from the positive feedback I receive when travellers have had a fun time experiencing them,” she said.

The WTA is an independent organisation which unites tourism businesses and traveller-related services in the district. Its elected board meets monthly and advocates on behalf of its members with Tourism Waitaki and the Waitaki District Council.

Mrs Kennedy has been on the board for five years, and replaced James Glucksman in her new role.

These were “unprecedented times”, and she acknowledged that many businesses were struggling, especially those that had been reliant on the international travel market.

“A major focus for the WTA this year is to look at the impact Covid has had on our local tourism industry.

“We initially want to update our operator database and to survey our members to gain information on the impact Covid has had on their business and to ascertain where the WTA can provide assistance and support.

“This information will also be used to assist Tourism Waitaki with their marketing strategy and to feed into the Waitaki District Council’s new destination management plan.”

New Zealand was “incredibly fortunate” to still have a tourism industry, albeit one that was fully reliant on a domestic market.

“Down at Steampunk HQ we are noticing a lot of North Island families holidaying in campervans, discovering the South Island for the first time.

“Out of holiday times, it has been predominantly the 60-plus group exploring the country, as a replacement for their traditional overseas holiday.”

Visitors discovering Oamaru and the Waitaki district for the first time were “absolutely loving” everything on offer.

“It has been fantastic to see so many people out and about in our region this summer – biking the Alps 2 Ocean, visiting Elephant Rocks and Moeraki Boulders, swimming and boating in our local beaches and lakes, experiencing Oamaru’s Victorian precinct and harbour environs and visiting our small towns of Hampden, Moeraki, Palmerston, Duntroon, Kurow, Otematata and Omarama.”

However, New Zealand was not immune to the long-term impact Covid-19 would have on travel and tourism, and when international travel resumed, the country’s tourism industry could be changed forever, she said.

“This is the challenge all our tourism operators will have to face – and the best way to face  it is by everyone communicating and working together.”Running Sneakers StoreUpcoming 2020 Nike Dunk Release Dates