Get it together all year
"Connectivity" with other parts of New Zealand and the rest of the world is vital for Marlborough to ensure people can enjoy the tourism opportunities, Destination Marlborough's new chairman says.
Nigel Gould said the Government's proposal to shift the interislander ferry terminal from Picton to Clifford Bay, south of Seddon, was a "major issue of connectivity" for Marlborough and its tourism product.
"The airport, the KiwiRail connection to Christchurch - these are all potential barriers to people being able to get here. Connectivity is a problem. If we don't have that, nothing works."
Destination Marlborough, as the regional tourism organisation, had to ensure assessments of the Clifford Bay proposal were all-encompassing and not just about the economic viability, he said.
"The collateral costs have got to be a major part of the equation."
Destination Marlborough had a very strong interest in the process and making sure the process was thorough and took the broad view, Mr Gould said.
"If it does proceed to the next stage, we'll be a very strong component of co-ordinating and contributing."
Mr Gould is a Wellingtonian but has an ownership interest in the Bay of Many Coves Resort in the Marlborough Sounds and was in the region every fortnight.
A yacht owner, he saw the Strait as his playground.
"That's what brought me back to the Sounds.
"Wellington harbour is a bit boring, Cook Strait is good fun, and the Marlborough Sounds is invigorating."
Marlborough offered a "uniquely different" environment for visitors, where they could fit in many different activities during a stay.
Another goal was to push the concept that Marlborough was a "four seasons" destination and he cited the promotional material for his own business. All the pictures were of summer, when the experiences in winter and spring were just as good.
The Queen Charlotte Track was unique in that it was a walking and cycling track that could be used in all seasons, Mr Gould said. "I want to use that as a catalyst to get more people here in months other than these peak summer ones."
The track had multiple ownership with fragmented interests and different stakeholders, he said, but all the players acknowledged it was an asset.
"We all need to accept that we have to be part of it in a much more integrated way than we are now."
One of his frustrations was that Destination Marlborough hadn't been able to bring everyone "into the game" and capture the enthusiasm. It had to complete that process.
"Spending a few months with the board last year, I got a better feel for the structure and people, the environment you have. It is distinctly apparent the energy and enthusiasm there is in many different parts of Marlborough, the communities like Picton, Blenheim and Havelock.
"The big challenge for Destination Marlborough is to be the catalyst, the glue bringing it together, to harness that energy and make it much more cohesive and far less fractured."
He was "really comfortable" Destination Marlborough had strong and significant support from the Marlborough District Council, he said.
"We have the resources. Destination Marlborough has really demonstrated its ability to build effective relationships regionally and nationally. The relationship with Positively Wellington Tourism is an example."
Despite the concerns about the ferries proposal, Mr Gould said he was confident in Marlborough.
- The Marlborough Express