The woman who led the charge to revive Waikato's regional tourism operator has announced her resignation.
Kiri Goulter, who kick-started Hamilton and Waikato Tourism in 2009, gaining buy-in from all seven regional councils, and local operators, said she just felt it was time to move on.
"[It was] not an easy decision to make, that's for sure. I've certainly spent a lot of time thinking about it."
Goulter came into the region on the invitation of Hamilton International Airport in 2009, and had two years in which to convince the district and city councils that a Regional Tourism Operator (RTO) was needed. She succeeded, and was made chief executive of the newly formed organisation in 2011. The previous RTO, Waikato Tourism, had fallen apart in 2006 after losing the support of tourism operators and councils.
Goulter said convincing both groups that an RTO could work again was her biggest challenge over the past five years. All seven local councils now contribute a total of $810,000 to Hamilton and Waikato Tourism annually.
While there was still plenty to do, Goulter said it was time to look for other opportunities.
"It's fair to say that I've achieved what I set out to achieve really, and the region is in a really good space, good heart. From a tourism perspective we've achieved a lot.
"I just felt that now was the time to look for new opportunities."
By the end of her watch, Goulter would have overseen around $3.5 million invested in promoting the region, with $1.5 m of that from tourism operators. Guest nights in the region have grown, up 4 per cent last year on the year before. The number of conventions and conferences in the region also grew, up by 2 per cent year-on-year.
Goulter has no immediate plans as to where she will look for work next, but hopes to remain involved in the region. Her resignation will be effective from June.