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MP's Corner: Northland needs tourists

MIKE SABIN
Last updated 11:26 02/10/2012
Mike Sabin
MP's Corner: Mike Sabin

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OPINION: Tourism is a big part of the Northland economy.

Compared to other stakeholders, it employs large numbers and provides opportunities for work in some of the smaller communities that would otherwise not exist. 

Tourism has another important role other than generating a direct income and return to those involved in this sector - it showcases the wider opportunities that living and working in this region provide and serves to promote these to both domestic and international audiences. 

It is fair to say however that we are well short of our potential in this important sector and building capacity and growing to potential will have great benefits.

The tourism sector was the most highly represented group in the whole-of-Northland economic summits I ran and Shane Lloydd, from the Copthorne Omapere, was elected as the tourism representative on the Northland Economic Advisory Group, which is now making great progress in moving forward with the action plan derived during the summit process. 

One of the challenges, as I see it, in Northland is that while the Bay of Islands is a great brand and draw card for tourists, there is much more to see and get involved in that just what happens there. 

This was the subject of conversation at a tourism forum held by hosts Ian and Fran Farrant at Waipoua Lodge following my day working with them as part of my new MP on the Job initiative.

Shane attended this, as did numerous other stakeholders such as Bet from the Kauri Museum and accommodation operators from Dargaville right through to the Hokianga. 

Central in the discussion was the Kauri Coast brand and developing capacity within this and how it could add value to both the area in terms of tourism but as much to the wider attractiveness of Northland as a substantial destination incorporating iconic experiences that reflect Northland’s significance in New Zealand’s story. 

The reality is that Northland can offer domestic and international tourists an ‘all you can eat’ feast of the New Zealand story if we are smart in developing the various components of that story into one ‘package’; the Kauri Coast, the Bay of Islands and the Far North. 

To me, ensuring the pie is grown for all these stakeholders will broaden our appeal and make Northland the first choice DESTINATION rather than what is too often a piece-meal after-thought that may only involve a few days stopover during flying visit.

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