The future of tourism promotion for the Coromandel is under consideration as part of Thames Coromandel District Council’s long term planning process.
As visitor spend contributed $384m to district businesses for the year end August 2020, the Regional Tourism Organisation, Destination Coromandel cautions that this is not the time to reduce focus or investment in a sector that is vital to the post-COVID local economy.
Destination Coromandel Trust, funded $455,175 annually by TCDC, promotes the region under The Coromandel good for your soul brand. '
General manager Hadley Dryden insists there’s never been a more important time to invest in tourism promotion in the 30-year history of the RTO.
“COVID-19 has brought a lot of uncertainty to an industry that is hugely significant to the Coromandel.
"The competition for domestic visitors continues to increase. We must maintain market share and give businesses confidence that they can survive without international dollars through this summer and next. The full financial impact is potentially ahead of us.”
“Together with the Coromandel tourism industry we’ve been successful in increasing domestic visitor spend during the shoulder seasons" says Hadley. "We simply can’t go quiet now while other regions ramp up their efforts to attract visitors from our core drive market and neighbouring regions."
The Coromandel was down $50m in visitor spend during March and April when compared to the previous year. Forward bookings for the peak Christmas – New Year period are encouraging and domestic travel is predicted to increase.
However Destination Coromandel warns that domestic visitors alone are unlikely to make up the $70m gap the absence of international travellers will leave in business bank accounts from December to the end of March, long after Kiwis return to work and school.
Hadley has long been an advocate for the indirect benefits that tourism contributes to communities.
For the Thames Coromandel District the biggest recipients of tourism dollars are retail, food and beverage providers and service stations.
“Economic benefits are dispersed and the effects are multiplied beyond the direct recipients, plus they contribute towards the vibrancy of all communities. Many people aren’t aware that accommodation, tourism products and transport benefit the least when compared with other business categories.”
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has recognised the value of the key role RTOs play in the tourism industry. Destination Coromandel received a $700,000 grant on the previso that local government maintains their investment.
This funding is for 15 projects across destination management, product development and marketing to be delivered over the next year. The special funding signals government support for the role of RTOs to broaden beyond promotion and Destination Coromandel will deliver the region’s first Destination Management Plan and seek to capitalise on future opportunities.
An additional $400,000 has been granted by government to Destination Coromandel to support local events over the next four years. “We’ll continue to work with TCDC and our other key partner, Hauraki District Council. For now our team just has to get on with it and make the most of all opportunities at this most crucial time.”
Destination Coromandel has an industry webinar scheduled for Thursday, November 19, to update partners on the region's first ever summer campaign, “Where Kiwis Holiday”, and the special projects under way.
As the industry contributes strong financial and in-kind support to the RTO’s marketing activities, the topic of ongoing TCDC funding will no doubt be a part of the discussion as well.