There's tourist gold in Taranaki gardens

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 05:00 20/02/2013
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ANDY JACKSON
Kathleen Ladyman at the Peranakan Lights

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Taranaki's gardens attracted visitors to the region in their thousands last year, pumping millions of dollars into the economy.

A report looking into the economic impact of the 2012 Powerco Garden Spectacular found there were close to 54,000 visits to the 51 gardens involved in the festival.

Sixty per cent of those visitors came from outside the Taranaki region, stayed an average of 4.2 nights and spent an average of $225 a day, adding up to $3.4 million, the report said.

Organisers credited a brilliant run of golden weather, new events and an increase in visitor numbers for making the 2012 event the most successful ever.

The direct impact of the $3.4m in spending supported 58 fulltime jobs for one year in the region, the report, tabled at yesterday's Taranaki Regional Council executive committee meeting said.

Accommodation was the largest area of expenditure, accounting for 23 per cent of total spend.

Spending on food and beverages, retail and transport sat at 17 per cent, 16 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.

Taranaki Regional Council executive committee member Roger Maxwell expressed concern over the low proportion of visitors from Taranaki's neighbouring regions of Waikato and Manawatu.

But TRC director, corporate services, Mike Nield said the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust targeted the audience where there was "more bang for the buck", which was women over 55 from Wellington and Auckland.

The trust was also expanding its marketing for the festival into Australia, Mr Nield said.

The council does not charge an entrance fee to the public regional facilities, instead making a contribution of $12,500 a year to the trust to help fund the marketing and promotion of the festival.

TRC chief executive Basil Chamberlain said the gardens had proven to be "the cornerstone provider to the economic development for the region".

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