Wine fest should be week long celebration

Organisers of the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival would like to use Waitangi Day falling on a Thursday next year to turn the one-day event into a week-long celebration of Marlborough.

Wine Marlborough general manager Marcus Pickens said he wanted to work with other tourism operators to entice people to the region for at least four or five days.

He also hoped the new Marlborough District Council regional events co-ordinator would be able to inject some ideas into next year's plans.

"That's the challenge I'm throwing down to the rest of Marlborough," Mr Pickens said.

"We are open to suggestions because this is bigger than Wine Marlborough or the festival committee - we can't do it on our own. We would like to integrate the whole community."

The idea was to bring more people to Marlborough without "cannibalising" each other's events.

"This needs serious planning, thinking and money.

"The nature of the event has changed. It is more of a consumer event now than a trade event."

However, he would like to see more people from the wine trade attend the annual festival.

"It would be fantastic to really put it on the map with more wine media, wholesalers, all that contingent."

Next year is the 30th anniversary of the Wine and Food Festival.

"We would like to make it bigger and longer . . . to last more than just one day," he said.

The organisers used to do a survey of people at the festival through an independent market research company.

The last comprehensive survey was in 2011. They stopped because the questionnaire presented virtually the same results every year, Mr Pickens said.

The 2011 survey showed the average person going to the festival spent $294, he said.

"Visitors to Marlborough stayed on average for 3.1 days. I'd like to make that 4.1 or 5.1 days."

The 2013 festival attracted about 7000 people.