i-Site visitors will spread the word

SONIA BEAL
Last updated 07:29 17/09/2012

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Staff from i-Site visitor information centres and tourism delegates from across the country took the chance to experience some of Marlborough's many tourist attractions during i-Site's national conference in Blenheim last week.

The Marlborough i-Site team put together 37 pre- and post-conference excursions around Marlborough with 70 delegates participating.

The three-day conference at the Marlborough Convention Centre coincided with i-Site's 10th anniversary and brought around 100 tourism officials to the region.

i-Site Dunedin Visitor Centre training and administration officer Peter Campbell went on two pre-conference excursions based in the Marlborough Sounds - mountain biking on the Queen Charlotte Track with Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company, and swimming with dolphins with Nature Cruises.

Swimming with dolphins and a function at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre had been the highlights, he said.

Mr Campbell had passed through the region several times and stayed overnight once. By familiarising himself with Marlborough's attractions and taking his knowledge back to the office to share with the rest of the i-Site Dunedin staff, he would provide them with details of what to recommend to visitors.

Better knowledge of an area through first-hand experience made it easier to "sell" to visitors as a travel destination, Mr Campbell said.

Most visitors at i-Site Dunedin asked about attractions nearby such as in the city itself, or Queenstown, Te Anau or Milford Sound.

However, some asked for help in arranging a travel itinerary for the South Island or the whole country, so he would make a point of recommending a stop-over in Marlborough, especially as it was one of the sunniest places in the country, and had a large number of water activities and walking tracks.

Lake Wanaka Lifestyle Reserve media communications executive Tess Hellebrekers also went swimming with dolphins, as well as kayaking in Queen Charlotte Sound.

She said visitors should stop in Blenheim to make the most of the food and wine scene, but also the Sounds, which were "fantastic" for outdoor activities.

Many people simply passed through Picton, so she would be encouraging visitors to stay for two to three nights.

"It needs to become a well-known visitor destination - it's what it deserves," she said.

Her position within the marketing body for the Queenstown Lakes district has a strong focus on social media, something conference speakers suggested was vital for a thriving tourism industry.

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- The Marlborough Express

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