Interest in Waitaki ‘exceptional’

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International travel agents showed exceptional interest in Waitaki at a trade show in Auckland this week, says tourism marketing manager Megan Howell.

Tourism Waitaki, the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony and the Alps to Ocean Cyle Trail were all represented at the two-and-a half day TRENZ 2014 show.

Ms Howell, marketing manager for Toursim Waitaki, said 50 15-minute interviews were held with international buyers over the duration of the expo, which was incredibly “full-on.”

She said the profile of Waitaki had lifted over the last five years, with a lot of international agents now familiar with what the region had to offer.

“Many said, ‘yes, I know where you are and I know about the historic precinct,'” she said.

“Agents know some of what we’ve got here and so we were educating them on new products and updating them on places like Scotts Brewery, salmon fishing in Omarama and new businesses in the precinct.

“These were all really well received,” Ms Howell said.

During drinks and networking evenings, they were able to showcase Whitestone Cheese for exhibitors and buyers, which Ms Howell said created huge interest.

New Zealand agents knew about Steampunk and while it was not internationally recognised yet, indications were that it had great interest value, she said.

“It takes one to two years for responses (from shows like this) to filter back in real trade.”

Jason Gaskill, general manager of Tourism Waitaki, said total guest nights in the region were up 19 per cent on this time last year, with visitors staying an average of one-and-a-half nights.

“We look at these statistics to give us a feel for the impact of our actions,” he said.

“There has been reasonable growth in tourism numbers which is encouraging.”

By LINDA MCCARTHY