Potential to boost wine tourism
New research into wine tourism highlights the opportunities for Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes and the need for greater collaboration to capitalise on the growing market, regional tourism bosses say.
Tourism NZ has released research into the wine tourism sector which shows in the past five years, an average of 220,000 international tourists visited wineries annually.
Queenstown is the fourth most visited wine-producing region with 20,100 average annual visits, while Central Otago has 4300 and Wanaka has 1700.
Marlborough had the most wine tourists (43,018) followed by Auckland (30,0007) and Hawkes Bay (24,857).
The research also shows winery tourists spend more than a typical visitor, stay longer and are more interested in art and cultural tourism than others during their stay.
Lake Wanaka Tourism General Manager James Helmore said the research was a great baseline report on the state of wine tourism around New Zealand and also for the wider Central Otago region.
''Wine (and food) tourism is a hugely important part of our visitors' experience. Better information allows us to more effectively target our marketing activity to the right audience.''
The report highlighted the opportunity the region had to develop wine and food tourism further, he said.
''Visitor numbers to established wine regions like Marlborough and Hawke's Bay show the potential market size we could be attracting. Given this is a new special interest segment for Tourism NZ, greater collaboration within the wider Central Otago region and further produce development by those in the sector would assist in capitalising on what will be a growing market.''
Central Otago Winegrowers Association president James Dicey said the association recognised the opportunities and was working with the Central Otago District Council on a wine tourism strategy.
''We have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Tourism NZ trying to integrate with wine tourism more closely - so they are more focused on making that connection.''
Key stages needed to embrace those wine tourism opportunities included co-ordination infrastructure and developing wine tourism corridors, he said.
''Signage is an important issue for us and we have been working with the council for about 18 months to try and increase the quality of their signage. Glacial is how I would describe the progress. It is definitely holding us up at the moment. We need to get better signs to take advantage of those numbers. There is a massive opportunity as a result of Queenstown infrastructure that is in place, the international airport and tourism players already in Queenstown, it's a matter of getting them past Queenstown, past Gibbston and into Cromwell and the surrounds.''
Central Otago needed to develop compelling tourist packages, he said.
''It's about thinking about things from a tourist perspective and designing things for tourism operators.''
Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd said the research provided a good platform for growing the wine tourism sector and there was growth potential for Queenstown, Wanaka and Central Otago.
''We have been working closely with the wider Central Otago region for a couple of years to develop your strategy as 'Central Otago' is the wine producing region that people identify with ... we aspire for Queenstown and Central to be the leading wine tourism region in New Zealand.
''Our immediate sub-region of Gibbston Valley is one of the main gateways into Queenstown so makes for a very accessible, high quality and well established visitors experience already.''
Central Otago District Council tourism marketing manager Pam Broadhead said it was hard for Central Otago to compete with numbers enjoyed by Marlborough and Hawke's Bay as there were fewer cellar doors.
''Many of our wineries are tiny and struggle to find finances or resources to open a cellar door.''