The Solution Lies Within
By Simon Nixon, Hastings Mayoral Candidate
What is good for Napier or Hastings is good for all of us. We need to put our localised pride aside and realise to the outside world we are one destination with a range of attractions and activities spread over two cities and the surrounding area.
Instead, we market ourselves as quite separate places with little linking the factions. Even our i-sites seem unconnected. This is strange because much of the three Councils visitor advertising budget is handled by the same advertising agency. One might expect more consistency as a result.
Funding for marketing is provided by distinct groups of ratepayers, leading to separate marketing operations by Napier, Hastings, and the Regional Council’s tourism agency, Venture Hawke’s Bay.
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of trust between those responsible. Napier justifiably see themselves as experienced and successful marketers because they have developed Art Deco into a recognisable international brand. They have too much to lose to surrender control if they are not confident.
Hastings often seems to dither, but does appear more committed to the concept of a broader Hawke’s Bay, and therefore seems in tune with a unified approach.
Venture Hawke’s Bay has to prove it is capable of managing tourism. The needs of the visitor sector are very different from its other areas of responsibility. Lack of relevant experience was clearly a problem with its predecessor, Hawke’s Bay Inc. Do any of those controlling the direction of VHB tourism activities have a track record relevant to the visitor industry?
Learning by mistake is expensive and time consuming, and time is not on our side. While other parts of the country are going ahead in leaps and bounds, our visitor industry is looking very sluggish.
We need to understand why people come here and why they do not. We need to look ahead and determine the likely environment we will be facing in the future, with particular regard to competition from other destinations, and increases in the price of energy and the effect this might have on transport costs. Then we need to look at ourselves from the outside, because that is where our visitors come from.