Visitors vital to local economy

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Originally from the UK, I grew up on a dairy farm in coastal Dorset, an area now called the Jurassic Coast (a Unesco Geopark!).

My family and I arrived in Oamaru almost 16 years ago – what a great area to make our home.

My background before having our daughters and coming to New Zealand was in sales and marketing with the Hilton National Hotel Group, having completed my qualification in hotel management, majoring in tourism.

So what a coincidence that I should end up back in the tourism and the hospitality industry on the other side of the world.

Since we arrived, Oamaru and the greater Waitaki district has become a growing tourist destination and this will increase in the future. (We certainly saw its potential.)

The Waitaki is still a gem waiting to shine.

Tourists are not just overseas visitors, but New Zealanders, too. Basically any visitor who isn’t from the Waitaki is classed as a tourist to this area. That is why all visitors are important to us and the local economy. For every dollar they spend, a dollar is spent several times more within your community.

And it’s not just within the tourist-oriented businesses; they spend their money in your local cafes, restaurants, fuel stations and on supermarket food and even in the main shopping areas around the district, like Thames St.

Therefore, we all benefit from the dollar the tourist brings.

As a retailer, I do feel we all, as a community, need to work together to offer the best experience possible to our visitors. We are a friendly group of Kiwis and have time to talk them and explain the reasons we call this place home.

Being part of the Otago Chamber of Commerce and the newly formed Oamaru Business Collective, I see working together as a must. Tourism is part of our future for the district, as well as agriculture and its related businesses, plus our building industry and local manufacturing. We all need to work together to enhance our businesses and therefore our economy and the job opportunities for our residents.

We have a great Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail that locals and visitors alike use, mountain bike and walking tracks, great beaches and skiing, fishing on the rivers and ocean and some great wildlife to share.

Businesses are developing from all of this and the Geopark initiative will benefit the whole of Waitaki, from Palmerston to Oamaru and the Waitaki Valley on to Ohau, bringing more jobs and revenue to us all.

It will make the district fully inclusive, from our Maori and Victorian history to the geographical and scientific sites, agriculture, horticulture and vineyards.

So don’t forget to shop locally within the Waitaki yourself, and talk to our visitors and inform them of the great individual businesses we have here in this district and why you shop there. When they spend money in our Waitaki district it benefits us all.

Keep it local, as it benefits us all in one way or another.

★ Dawn Brown is the owner of Presence on Harbour and the retail board member for the Waitaki Tourism Association.