Extra flights a bonus for local firms

CHLOE WINTER
Last updated 13:20 31/01/2014
Tracey Johnston
Chloe Winter
General manager of Destination Marlborough Tracey Johnston and Air New Zealand's regional affairs manager Ian Collier are teaming up to attract more visitors to Marlborough

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Blenheim businesses are optimistic about reaping benefits from 800 extra seats a week on flights between Blenheim and Auckland.

A 50-seat Bombardier Q300 aircraft will replace the 19-seat Beechcraft 1900D aircraft on the Blenheim to Auckland route in February to meet increased demand.

Blenheim Shuttle owner Duncan McIntyre, who transports people to and from the airport, said increased passenger numbers would benefit a lot of Marlborough businesses.

"It helps everyone," Mr McIntyre said.

"Everybody wins. Anything that helps Marlborough is great."

Mr McIntyre was unsure if there would be extra demand for his shuttle service.

"We will work to whatever happens. We will cover it in the ways and means we need to."

Marlborough Motel Association president Noel Noble said he was positive the increased flight capacity would benefit everyone.

The news was great for businesses, Mr Noble said.

"Any easier access to Marlborough should be seized with both hands.

Visitor numbers had fallen in recent years so the region was looking forward to a boost . . . "2014 is looking a lot more optimistic," he said.

Marlborough Chamber of Commerce general manager Hamish Macfarlane said extra foot traffic would definitely stimulate the economy.

The increased capacity affirmed the need for the airport renovations which start in April, Mr Macfarlane said.

"The Marlborough District Council's timing of the airport terminal development is spot on," he said.

Mayor Alistair Sowman agreed. The whole region would benefit from extra people visiting the region.

"It opens up some real opportunities," he said.

"It could well mean cheaper fares too." It will help boost the tourism and business industries, Mr Sowman said.

"The ball's in our court now, we need to maximise the opportunity."

Destination Marlborough general manager Tracy Johnston said the region was "on to a winner".

"It's fantastic," she said.

"If each one of those people spend $120 a day that's an additional spend into the community and that spend goes far and wide."

The plan was to form partnerships with Auckland and Marlborough businesses so they could help market the region, she said.

"We would be capitalising on the extra activity and it would increase our visibility in the marketplace.

"We want to try to give our visitors a great experience," she said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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