It's all here - expo

Newcomers to Marlborough were among the people who went to the Holiday Expo in Marlborough yesterday.

The expo wasn't promoting elsewhere - it was promoting here, and how to add to that tiki tour list of things to do with visitors.

The 50 exhibitors at the Marlborough Convention centre were pleased with the support and interest from the public, and the chance to connect with other tourist providers before the summer tourist season kicks off.

The event was organised by Grow Marlborough, a group of 20 representatives from the tourism sector with support from Marlborough Chamber of Commerce, the Marlborough Convention Centre and Destination Marlborough.

Marlborough Chamber of Commerce general manager Brian Dawson said the event was put together on a shoestring budget, but the support from businesses and the public showed it was a worthwhile idea.

Mr Dawson also ran two free hour-long customer service workshops for retailers, accommodation providers and other frontline staff.

The objective of the workshops was to help people open the communication gateway with their guests, to find out what they are interested in and tell them what is available in Marlborough.

"It's not just about making the sale, but thinking about the bigger picture of how to make their experience better and educate them about all the wonderful things there are to do here," he said.

Our Country manager Cheryl McCutcheon said the expo was a marvellous way to connect with other providers and refresh their memories about the Vines Village in Rapaura Rd.

"We are always sending people off to other places and telling them what they should do while they are visiting, and we hope others do that for us too," she said.

Many of the 50 exhibitors noticed many newcomers to the region visiting the expo to learn more about Marlborough activities and places of interest.

Na Chlachan cottages and wine tours owners Wendy Mein and Helen Redshaw said they had talked to many people who were surprised to find so much to see and do.

"We are trying to beat that perception that all there is to do in Marlborough is drink wine," Ms Mein said.

Eco World Aquarium director John Reuhman said the expo was a good way to bolster relations with other Marlborough businesses.

"We've been talking about providing packages to tourists because as businesses we all have common goals."

"People are coming here for two or three days, we have to make it easier for them to experience what we have to offer."

Mr Reuhman said he hoped the expo would become an annual event.