With a major trumpet flourish, the Napier City Council announced back on October 1 that it was committing an additional $100,000 to bring tourists to Napier and thus help the city’s struggling hospitality industry. (Here’s the press release.)

Now it looks like the only urgency for this “commitment” was getting the announcement out during the final run-up to Election Day.

Today, nearly two months later, the Napier Council’s Tourism & Economic Development Committee met. The question was asked … what’s happening with the $100,000.

Answer: “We’re just starting to plan that.”

For a Council that can’t resist throwing rocks at Venture Hawke’s Bay (today, according to Mayor Arnott, it was VHB’s fault that French tour operators have booked French rugby fans into Rotorua instead of Napier), the Napier Councillors seem to be living in a glass house.

You can bet your tourist dollar that BayBuzz will be eagerly watching to see the pay-off from NCC’s additional $100,000 election pandering tourism investment.

It’s supposed to bring domestic and Australian tourists to Napier during the shoulder season following this summer. Napier moteliers … probably best to board up for now, take the summer off, and keep your sheets fresh for the big shoulder push!

Perhaps Napier Council’s tourism experts might better spend their energy trying to figure out why Art Deco guided walks have fallen off precipitously since their peak in 2007 (judging from a bar chart given the Council, about 23,000 then) to 15,454 in 2010. Could this be what one calls a “red flag” regarding the lustre of Art Deco? Or does it simply reflect overall lower tourism numbers (which, of course, global recession aside, would make it VHB’s fault)?

Tom Belford

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  1. Well said Tom!
    And how sad it was to read that NCC won’t allow the Napier artist market set up in the Marine Parade Soundshell when Cruise Ships are visiting. They are told they must move their market down to the Ocean Spa carpark where the cruise ship passengers can have a passing glimpse from the shuttle coach transport which transfers them directly to the Napier i-site for drop off/pick up!
    The NCC would rather our most valuable cruise ship passengers enjoy a drab empty soundshell concrete slab with no life than a fun busling market showcasing many of the talented Hawke’s Bay artists.
    I have been to many cruise ship destinations who all celebrate the arrival of a cruise ship with music in the streets and markets where the visitors can really mingle with the locals and most importantly purchase goods made locally!
    Come on Napier City Council, wake up and start taking notice of how important the growth of tourism is to this region and start bringing some life to marine parade through the summer!
    Oh, and as Tom says – show us the money!!

  2. Three months later and they’re still planning?
    Here’s what I found out in about ten minutes:
    A/ $100,000 will buy you very little advertising! Especially internationally – from memory they were going to target our neighbours across the Tasman.

    B/ One full page advert in the likes of the Herald would set you back about $30,000. The same ad in The Melbourne Age, or Sydney Morning Herald? You could easily double that and a bit more. They would be lucky to get change from their budgeted amount.
    C/ Why not use it more effectively and target the French, Canadians and Japanese who will be, or are thinking of visiting Napier for the Rugby World Cup next year? Get them to stay longer, see more, or more importantly have such a great experience in our great city that they want to return and tell their family and friends so they want to come too!

    Someone had the bright idea of having a tackily large, grass rugby ball on Marine Parade as a feature or attraction for the RWC. Here’s an even brighter idea – drop the ball and use the money more wisely to enhance our visitor’s experience!

  3. The commets from Wendy Fisher re the artist market reminded me to include artist market promoter Louise Ludlow to be considered for a Baybuzz "end of year recognition."(louise of course will shudder at the thought)

    The likes of Louise Ludlow should be the life blood of Venture HB or the NCC Tourist and Economic Development as her ideas are free,and the artist market is already showing huge potential. Our Soundshell plus the courtyard would be honoured to host the artists market, on behalf of the citizens of Napier.

  4. If all the statistics provided by the Napier Motel Assn are correct then HB has some serious issues that need to be addressed now. Rather than complain about the extra $ 100,000 that Napier feels the need to spend, prehaps the community should focus on the $1.2M currently rated from the HB ratepayers by the HB Regional Council for Venture HB.
    This agency has been charged with promoting the Tourism and Economic Development of HB for the past years and should bare a large portion of the responsibility for the sad results to date. This has for a long time needed to change. Prehaps now with Sam Ortons input it may, time will tell.

    I believe that now is the time for the Napier and Hastings Councils to work more closely together in a real way and give their views on the way forward for HB Economic Development and Tourism Promotion to the Regional Council with the aim for all Councils to be part of the Solution.
    If they can’t then get out of the way and let the operators get on and do the job that they have not been able to do.

  5. Not only has the RWC Official Canadian Tour Agent booked the Canadian rugby fans into Rotorua and is intending on bussing their supporters down and back on the day for each match, but now we learn that the RWC Official French Tour Agent is intending on doing the same, and that the Canada vs France RWC match is the only provincial game that is already sold out.

    What an absolute disaster for Hawke’s Bay’s economy, which will see a wide range of businesses (and there flow on effects), now miss out on what might have been a windfall gain for the region.

    Rather than suggesting that Napier Councillors seem to be living in glasshouses, perhaps one should be asking the very real question – Why?

    Why did those responsible for RWC regional promotion not put someone on a plane to visit the senior management of each of the three RWC Official Travel Agents in Canada, France and Japan immediately these agents were appointed and to promote the regions diversity to each of these Official Travel Agents?

    What are we doing to promote this region to these teams supporters and other RWC visitors, who might (if they have a memorable time) become ambassadors for the region, encouraging others to visit here when they return home?

    The decline in Art Deco walk numbers is not surprising, and quite simply is easily explained by the decrease in visitor numbers to Hawke’s Bay over the last few years.

    Over just the last year alone, Hawke’s Bay has had the biggest decline in international visitor guest nights (down 21,000) than any other tourism region in the North Island, while regions such as Bay of Plenty (+52,000), Rotorua (+72,000), Northland (+32,000), Coromandel (+26,000) to name a few, have achieved significant growth in international visitor guest nights over the same period.

    Growth rates, which reflect record international visitor arrivals in December 2009, and January and September 2010, as well as an increased number of Australians visiting New Zealand over the last 18 months.

    Similarly for total guest nights (both domestic and international) over the last 12 months Hawke’s Bay is one of the worst performers (down 28,000), when other regions are achieving significant growth – Bay of Plenty (+109,000), Rotorua (+58,000), Northland (+41,000), Coromandel (+40,000), Wellington city (+23,000), Taranaki (+11,000) to name a few. All enjoying significant boosts to their local economies.

    According to our local tourism experts Hawke’s Bay’s poor visitor performance is caused by the global recession. A recession which appears to be affecting Hawke’s Bay and not the regions above. Why?

    Why is it that many of our visitors, particularly from overseas, only stay one night arriving late afternoon and departing the next morning? Are we merely an overnight stopover destination? Why do those that stay a couple of nights regularly say when leaving “If I knew what I know now, I would have stayed longer?”

    Perhaps as John Palairet Hawke’s Bay Airport Chairman said in HB Today 2nd December “a lack of tourism promotion was hampering chances, as the region need to bump up visitor numbers.”

    Or perhaps the global recession is just another rock to hide behind in an attempt to cover up the regions poor performance.

    Napier City Council should be congratulated for recognising that there is a problem and stepping up to the mark and attempting to do something about it by allocating funds for actual promotion, unlike that other organisation which spends most of the ratepayer funding on salaries and administration costs rather than promoting the region.

  6. If I were a Motelier in Napier I’d be really pissed off at the lost Rugby World Cup opportunity.

    It’s not just the insult of Rotorua hosting the visitors that should be theirs, but the whole influx of tourists into the country, and making sure Hawke’s Bay is part of their itinary.

    All that yakking about ‘events promotion’ from those responsible for Tourism and they miss the opportunity of the biggest ‘event’ of the year, and in winter!

    This is incompetency on a grand scale.

    And I don’t get it.

    We’ve known the RWC itinerary for a year.

    Whose function is it to lobby the ‘RWC Official Travel Agents in Canada, France and Japan?’

    Whose job is it to promote Hawke’s Bay to the package tour operators, and leave info with the vehicle rentals; cars, and vans, and the poetic speels in in-flight magaazines??

    Whoever is responsible has really f*****d up!

    I’m not surprised by this, because my experience of our Tourism promoters was 100% destructive.

    When I declined their invitation to subsidise their ‘promotion’ dinners, they removed Pacifica from all their recommended restaurants promotion, and told visiting food critics we weren’t worth visiting. Thankfully the critics knew better.

    Some of the same people who were part of that culture; ‘if they don’t roll over, kick ’em,’ are still there, and things won’t change until that attitude is gone forever.

  7. Napier’s Rugby World Cup 2011 organizers have dropped the ball and I for one could not be happier.

    Plans for the giant, gaudy and pointless grass rugby ball that was planned for Marine Parade have been ditched (or should that be mowed?) in favor of a large, more kid-friendly, inflatable rugby obstacle course to be situated on the Parade for the period of the tournament.

    The idea alone that grass, scaffolding and chicken wire would be a suitable representation of Hawke’s Bay and its love of the oval-balled game was ridiculous and it’s a sad indictment on the powers that be that it took them this long to figure that out.

    Recently Napier’s tourism industry people blamed the former “Hawke’s Bay, Wine Country” brand for a drop in visitor numbers, trade and income in our city. It doesn’t take a grass (or crystal) ball to see that perhaps some investigation or blame closer to home may be more appropriate.

    Napier needs new ideas and fresh blood from those who truly love this city to see it promoted and prosper the way it deserves. We certainly deserved better than this.

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