All tourism operators have a role to play in promoting tourism in this district.
And for the most part we do this well, according to mayor Gary Kircher.
The weekend’s closure of the Whisky Art Gallery has brought into question whether enough is being done to market Oamaru’s Historic Precinct and other tourist attractions to help make businesses viable.
Dawn Mann, who closed the doors to her business on Sunday, said greater volumes of tourists are needed so that small business owners can afford to take on extra staff. This, she said, would mean they could have had two shifts operating their art and jewellery store in the Loan and Merc building.
Ms Mann said it was exhausting working long hours seven days a week and said better marketing and target marketing would make businesses in the precinct more viable.
“People are still falling upon the precinct by chance,” she said.
Better signage generally and in particular signage near the Waimate turn-off on the main road would encourage southbound buses from turning inland before Oamaru.
“We should be targeting tour buses so that they do the loop around through Oamaru and then head back up through Duntroon and Kurow.”
Tourism Waitaki general manager, Jason Gaskill, said they are currently working with the Waitaki District Council to improve signage.
Mr Kircher confirmed that TW was given $10,000 in the Annual Plan for signage and have been asked to submit their thoughts on where signs should be placed and what they should look like.
Mr Gaskill said putting signage on main roads is not an easy exercise with many rules and regulations to negotiate.
TW markets the district generically, attending tradeshows and making buyers aware of the district’s attractions. Discussions with inbound operators have occurred however Mr Gaskill said there is a substantial time lag between conversation and visitation.
Mr Kircher said the precinct has never been busier and with the next stage of the Alps to Ocean due for completion soon even greater numbers of tourists will be coming down the valley.
He acknowdeged that everyone can do better and that businesses need to play their role in promoting tourism too.
By LINDA MCCARTHY