NZ tourism consultancy wins $1m Aussie contract

A Wellington tourism development consultancy that has worked on some of the most beautiful, controversial and economically beneficial projects in the world has just signed one of its biggest contracts.

TRC Tourism has won a $1 million contract deal with the Australian Government to bring tourists to areas including the Greater Blue Mountains, Great Barrier Reef and the Great Ocean Road near Melbourne.

Its job is to turn the landscapes where people can do activities such as walking, kayaking, cycling and whale watching into tourist destinations.

TRC Tourism will lead a consortium of sub-contractors working on market research, branding, hospitality and investment.

The company was founded in 1986 and has helped to turn remote locations into must-visit holiday spots and developed travel destinations out of natural resources.

It was originally a two-person partnership between Dave Bamford and Les Clark to consult on Kiwi tourism projects.

Within a couple of years, a New Zealand trade representative put the company in touch with a Malaysian tourism development project that opened the door for it to work in exotic locations around the world.

"From then on it snowballed and we went from being a New Zealand-focused firm to a fully fledged international tourism consulting company," managing director Ross Corbett said.

It has since worked on projects to develop mountain biking trails in the Balkans, with a Switzerland-based ecotourism foundation on environmental education centres and building tourism business around organic farms in North Sumatra and East Java.

It helped a private tea estate owner at Darjeeling in India develop a spa report, and in Nepal it provided the Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge with case studies about how wildlife lodges can best benefit the community and conservation.

Closer to home, TRC Tourism has been working with the Wellington Cable Car for more than 10 years to keep it a top tourist attraction in developing the museum at the top of the ride.

It has worked with both the regional authorities that oversee Kapiti Island and Kapiti Island Alive nature lodge owner John Barrett to improve the island's attractiveness to tourists in a way that was sustainable to its ecosystem.

"We work on sustainable forms of tourism development for nature, adventure and culture-based developments at all levels, from small businesses right through to multi-country strategic tourism and trying to get countries to work together to foster cross-border travel and trade and develop infrastructure," Corbett said.

He said the $1m Australian contract was one of the biggest it had undertaken, and follows the US$150m (NZ$188m) South Asia Tourism Development project it worked on in 2009 for the Asian Development Bank.

"That involved dealing with five countries designing a project of largely infrastructure developments and improvements, road upgrades, improving some of the cultural and religious sites in the region like some of the old monasteries and Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, with visitor facilities like new toilets and information centres needed at a place lots of visitors go, upgrading airports and training local people for building capacity."