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The West Coast is experiencing a higher than average surge in its tourism sector, largely due to a strong 12 months since borders reopened that has seen an increase in flights, but also in thanks to the region’s introduction of new attractions and upgrades.
The opening and completion of seven of these developments have played a crucial role in attracting these higher than average number of visitors to the region. In 2023, the West Coast saw a 30 percent increase in visitor spending, overtaking the national average growth of 11.6 percent. This surge is evidence to the region’s successful efforts in enhancing its tourism appeal.
A standout addition in 2023 was the rail-based tourism packages centered around Great Journeys New Zealand’s TranzAlpine scenic train, which encourages visitors exploration of the West Coast’s unique landscapes.
Another positive, is the $17.8 million Government-funded Māori Cultural Experience, Pounamu Pathways Discovery Centre in Greymouth. Designed by Weta Workshop and opened in December 2023, the development has been key in attracting visitors keen on learning about local culture and history. It also supports local tourism operators, creates sustainable employment, and offers upskilling opportunities for residents.
Development West Coast chief executive Heath Milne, says he is proud of these results, and says it highlights the significant role of these new attractions in drawing both international and local. He says that such developments is important to not only attracting first-time visitors but also in retaining them.
As for the domestic impact, Heath says “Kiwis have discovered the Coast and have decided to keep coming here.”
The West Coast’s tourism boom is a sign of the region’s ability to reinvent and effectively market itself in the competitive tourism industry. The impressive increase in visitor spending not only benefits local businesses, but sends a strong signal of economic health and potential for future growth.