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Whether it’s Mt Hutt, recognised by World Ski Awards as New Zealand’s
Best Ski Resort for the past three years, our beautiful rivers and lakes, or
the host of other attractions we offer, the Ashburton District continues to be
visited by thousands of tourists every year. This is due in no small part to
the hard work of Experience Mid Canterbury (EMC), a Council-Controlled
Organisation that is tasked with marketing Ashburton District as a destination
to local and international visitors.
In the year ending March 2018, tourism expenditure rose in the Ashburton
district by 3.3 percent, to a total of $173 million. It’s part of the reason
why Canterbury enjoyed a significant increase in tourist spending in the year to
May 2018. In fact, it was the third fastest-growing region for tourist spending
in the country, up 13 per cent to $3.8 billion. This was helped by particularly
strong growth in visitors from the UK, China and Australia.
This year, EMC is more focussed than ever on boosting tourism numbers and
has recruited some talented new board members to help make it happen. Sitting alongside
EMC Chairman James Urquhart, I had the privilege of helping to appoint Gareth Reed,
Sarah Jones, and Bevan Rickerby to the EMC Board last month. They are well-deserving
of their new roles, each bringing valuable experience, knowledge and skills to
Gareth Reed returned to his rural-Canterbury
roots a few months ago, after a two-year stint working in Europe’s highly
competitive financial market. He has held various leadership and management
roles at the Royal Bank of Scotland, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation
Europe, and Vanguard UK Retail Direct (the second largest asset manager in the
world). Before that, he worked as an ANZ Relationship Manager for commercial
and agri customers throughout the South Island, starting his career in
Mid-Canterbury in 2009. Gareth is currently the Company Director of Harvard Hub
Investments Limited, a commercial property syndicate, and has previously served
on the board of Ronald McDonald House, South Island.
Sarah Jones brings a strong dose of practical marketing experience to
the board. After graduating with a Master of Marketing from Curtin University,
Perth in 2014, Sarah used her skills as a marketing specialist at the BBC Worldwide
in London and Southern Cross Care in Western Australia. Her passion, dedication
and expertise have been recognised with a host of accolades, including a
prestigious ‘Leadership on Show’ award from Southern Cross Care for
successfully project managing an overhaul of its service delivery in 2016.
With more than 45 years’ experience in the business world, Bevan
Rickerby brings a considerable skillset to his new position. He has
demonstrated his ability in management, business development and sales and
marketing roles across a diverse range of sectors. These include transport and
logistics, agribusiness, media, hospitality and education. Bevan has lived in
Ashburton for the past four years, three as the General Manager for Ashburton-based
Plains Irrigators Ltd and 12 months providing consultancy services to
businesses in the district.
Gareth, Sarah and Bevan join established board members James Urquhart,
Anton Wilke and Gary Lee.
James Urquhart’s passion for tourism in the district continues to grow,
after more than eight years as Chair of the EMC Board. He is also the current
General Manger of Operations at Mt Hutt Ski Area and has served as an Executive
Committee Board Member for the Methven Heritage Centre and Mt Hutt Marketing
Group. In 2016, James was recognised as the NZSKI Leader of the Year.
EMC’s Deputy Chair Anton Wilke has spent the past 25-plus years
promoting and managing tourist destinations, attractions and accommodation services
throughout the country. He is also the current General Manager at Tekapo Springs
and Stargazing, which attracts more than 145,000 visitors every year.
Previously, Anton worked for various tourism companies including the Canterbury
Tourism Council, Rainbow Springs in Rotorua, and Porters Ski Area.
Gary Lee has served on the EMC Board for the past two and a half years,
after moving back to the district from the West Coast. Gary previously served
on the board of Tourism West Coast for five years and is a current member of the Ashburton District
Licensing Committee. Hailing from Lauriston and having attended Methven
High School, Gary is committed to serving his community for the
Our Council is looking forward to working closely with EMC as it
continues to showcase Ashburton District to the world.