Bruce Moffat heads Experience Mid Canterbury, a role he took over in September 2015. In this interview Bruce answers questions about the summer season just passed and his thoughts and plans for the future of
tourism in the region.
The role of Experience Mid Canterbury is to ensure that the Ashburton District is marketed as a visitor destination to maximize the long-term benefits to the District's economy.
You were appointed to the position in September last year, how has your first summer leading Experience
Mid Canterbury been?
The summer has been very busy, particularly with the increased demand from our international visitors from the United Kingdom and China. The whole district is 13.2% up on guest nights compared with summer 2015.*
*Source Statistics New Zealand (Summer months Jan – Mar 2016)
At a personal level, the last 8 months have been fantastic; I'm blessed to have such a passionate well-organised team along with a very supportive board and council liaison committee.
What are some of the outstanding things you have noticed about the summer season? What have been some challenges and successes?
Mid Canterbury's standout summer opportunity is outdoor recreation. With further focus and efforts on the expansion of the cycle way throughout our district we could see a growth in the length of stay for visitors resulting in additional money spent locally through the purchasing of food, additional entertainment and more.
How important is tourism to Ashburton District (do you have an estimated dollar value?)
Tourism is the number one export earner for New Zealand now; as a direct result the Mid Canterbury region generates significant GDP growth due to tourism. The most recent data shows the district enjoys a $128,000,000 return directly from tourism. This figure is measured by electronic transactions made throughout the district by credit Card, EFTPOS and ATM transactions.*
How has tourism (domestic and international) in NZ changed over the last ten years?
New Zealand has become more accessible though the increased airline support – especially into Christchurch International Airport. The awareness of New Zealand's reasonably safe while extremely beautiful environment has increased due to enhanced marketing efforts.
What is Experience Mid Canterbury's role in developing a response to these changes?
We work with agencies such as Tourism New Zealand, Christchurch International Airport, local and international airlines and our tourism business partners to expose Mid Canterbury to a wider visitor audience. We also play an important role in attracting new tourism ventures to the region, such as hotels, backpackers and adventure activities.
What do you believe will be the key drivers to expanding the tourism market for Ashburton District?
Investment in agri-tourism such as farming & agricultural tours and farm stays. A central attraction allowing visitors to learn about and engage with the region's agricultural history and success will provide a unique point of difference.
Another key driver will be education and service – ensuring our tourism and service providers are offering high levels of service and are kept informed about any changes to the tourism industry.
Where do you think this expansion will come from (domestic or international)?
This will come from both the domestic and international segments. More New Zealanders are traveling around the country to experience more of their backyard courtesy of cheaper access to airfares, ferry crossing and land transport. International visitors will continue to grow especially with the marketing emphasis given to emerging markets such as China, India, Indonesia and Latin America.
What work are you doing with neighbouring districts to encourage tourists to spend more time in
We work closely with Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism to ensure we maximize our exposure into the district through media and trade visits. We often co-market in social media and online campaigns. This is an effective way to achieve growth and measure the outcomes. We meet regularly with Selwyn and South Canterbury tourism operators to ensure they know what's happening in our region and how Experience Mid Canterbury Tourism can also add value.
Is there anything exciting planned for the upcoming winter season? Things you want to promote in particular.
The Mid Canterbury winter season is always full of adventure and fun times; we have spent many months ramping up the winter activity though online media and ski events.
Experience Mid Canterbury promotes the Kids 4 Free campaign to international and domestic markets – but there is still value in the campaign for local Ashburton District residents. The Kids 4 Free deal offer is for every child 10 years and under when accompanied by a paying adult so check kids4free.co.nz often or ring the Ashburton or Methven iSITEs for more information.
This article originally appeared in the June 2016 edition of District Diary
Photo supplied by Miles Holden - Mount Hutt