District reaps rewards of TV broadcasts

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Oamaru and the Waitaki District are reaping the benefits of publicity from TVNZ’s Seven Sharp broadcasts in July and August.

In July, Oamaru took the title of Seven Sharp’s New Zealand’s Sharpest Town competition in a landslide victory.

As a result, Oamaru played host to the Seven Sharp team for a live broadcast from the Victorian Precinct on August 5.

All things good about the district, including Alps 2 Ocean, businesses, education, steampunk, the Victorian Precinct, the Penguin Colony and the people, were showcased to about 409,700 people around the country.

LJ Hooker’s Stephen Robertson said the company had noted a 30 per cent increase in the volume of sales since the Seven Sharp publicity.

Of the 30 per cent increase, about 60 per cent of inquiries had come from out of town, with some specifically mentioning the TVNZ exposure.

“There has definitely been a raise after the Sharpest Town,” Mr Robertson said.

“It’s definitely helped putting Oamaru on the map… It’s awesome.”

As a result of increased interest, LJ Hooker Oamaru has started an advertising push in Christchurch with listings in The Star each Friday.

Tourism Waitaki general manager Jason Gaskill said he had noticed an increased awareness of Oamaru and the wider Waitaki District since the national publicity in July and August.

While there was no “hard evidence” of a boost in visitor numbers, the Tourism Waitaki team had “definitely” noted a better appreciation nationally for what the district had to offer.

“Inquiries are coming in from outside of the region about events in the next seven to eight months,” Mr Gaskill said.

“I’m sure you can’t put that all down to the show. Other people have been doing a lot of work to raise the profile and get the word out of what we have here.”

However, the publicity gave Tourism Waitaki a great platform to build on, particularly heading into summer, he said.

“It seems to be a better and broader awareness,” he said.

“Everything that happens from now is building on that platform… we seem to be over that initial awareness hurdle – they know where we are and what’s here.

“It bodes well for the district heading into summer.”

Meanwhile, the most recent Statistics New Zealand figures show an increase in permanent and long-term arrivals to the Waitaki District in the months of July and August.

After net loss of 51 people from the district between January 2012 and June 2013, in July and August this year, the region had a net gain of 22 people, with 37 people arriving in August and 17 in July.

Waitaki District Mayor Alex Familton said the increase was not surprising.

“We’ve had some great publicity recently, the Sharpest Town, and being recognised as a very attractive place to live in,” Mr Familton said.

“We live in an outstanding district… and more and more people are realising that havens like this exist.”

By Rebecca Ryan