What will Hawke’s Bay visitors want in 2030… how do we respond to these demands and also enhance our community?
Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, employing millions of people. It is an incredible enabler of communities and people, and generally has the ability to leave people truly fulfilled and generally wanting more!
So where should Hawke’s Bay sit with this in mind?
Visitors no longer ‘consume tourism products’ or ‘attend tourist attractions’. Visitors of today and the future are demanding authentic experiences, wanting to understand and interact with the local people, environment and way of life. The reasons people live somewhere are often the very same reasons why people choose to visit. This is why many places around the world are starting to think of their visitors as ‘temporary residents’. Natural and man-made attractions are important in the visitor experience, and increasingly so is a rich social fabric.
As a result, the experience of a destination is not merely built around iconic attractions, but also the extent to which visitors can immerse themselves in the local culture, and see and do things that are not available elsewhere. This allows destinations to differentiate themselves not only with the ‘hardware’ of their place but also the ‘software’.
A successful example of this is the city of Newcastle in Australia. In less than three years and with minimal budget to speak of, the city moved from an “ageing, fading industrial town – suffering from repeated earthquakes and natural disasters and mass unemployment from the closure of its largest industries” to being voted by Lonely Planet as one of 2011’s top 10 cities in the world to visit!
Making the Top 10
Their budget was too limited to address any of the city’s real hardware problems. Instead, Newcastle took a different tack. They “engaged the immediacy of enthusiasm and activity and stepped back from the contentious and divisive debates about what should and shouldn’t happen in the long term.” They started rewriting – or hacking – the software, to change not what the city is, but how it thinks and behaves. They changed the way lease agreements and contracts work to incentivise creatives and entrepreneurs to move in and stimulate a more vibrant city centre.
The Hawke’s Bay region has the opportunity to look at both these long-term ‘hardware’ changes (e.g. infrastructure that will help to create new tourism experiences) as well as ‘software’ (changes – like creative ways to attract the family market through additional services and information).
Hawke’s Bay in the future can look quite different from now. In 2030, we should expect to have doubled the number of visitors if we follow a reasonable growth path. However, for this to happen, improvements will be needed to give visitors new and unique reasons to visit.
So how about Art Deco being firmly entrenched in Hawke’s Bay – so it’s celebrated 365 days a year with designated precincts around the region themed not only by the architecture but by the activities, attitude, and service that the era represents. Why can’t central Napier be like Santa Fe, New Mexico or Bourbon St in New Orleans – open every day and offering something truly unique for the visitor. Napier City Council has started delivering this with much applause from cruise passengers, so let’s keep going!
Marine Parade should be a focal point for events and activities and it should have the right major attraction for families. Why can’t we be like Wellington’s waterfront and also provide the kind of energy you see on Venice Beach in California – market stalls, coffee stands, deck chairs, bike hire outlets – we have an idyllic climate and stunning backdrop – let’s show it off.
The Hawke’s Bay Trails should become the best cycling journey in New Zealand. They connect so many visitor experiences – from The National Aquarium to wineries to farmers’ markets to boutique villages and farm gates.
What if our airport was a show piece for all that’s the best of the Bay? So visitors can not only get a taste of their visit before they start, but can collect a bottle and morsel on the way out as well. Locals can also take a piece of Hawke’s Bay every time they take-off as well.
Our southern gateway in Central Hawke’s Bay could soon be home to a very large new dam. What have we planned to enhance that project so visitors can be drawn to stay longer in CHB, utilising the lake and its surrounds?
Year-round events should be synonymous with Hawke’s Bay. Whether it’s the best place to hold secondary school sports tournaments or the biggest winery concerts, we can be the ‘go to’ region. We should now make it so easy to have an event in Hawke’s Bay … why wouldn’t you pick us?!
Lake Waikaremoana is a unique jewel within our region and better access to it is a necessity. What other tourism services could we develop to open it up to locals and visitors?
Our Mãori heritage. We have a significant opportunity to begin presenting our culture and telling our stories in a vibrant, authentic and contemporary manner.
As a visitor destination we are in a highly competitive tourism environment. We now need to unite, think smart, be bold and own our tourism future.