The plan defines a 50-year tourism vision

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A new dawn is dawning for Central Otago’s tourism industry and it is hoped that every visitor, whether domestic or international, will help shoulder the burden of visitor costs.

Central Otago District Council and Ngai Tahu yesterday released their long-awaited Central Otago Destination Management Plan, which sets out a 50-year vision for tourism in the region.

The plan is based on a set of Ngai Tahu values ​​and defines 10 tourism strategies, including sustainable funding for future tourism, environmental stewardship, talent attraction, cross-sector collaboration and product development.

Tourism Central Otago’s Dylan Rushbrook said the plan would be shared in a series of roadshows in October before “kick-starting at the start of the new year.”

“Before December, we will seek to appoint a governance group to lead, plan and help set up the projects,” he said.

He also hoped for a national-level conversation about appropriate tourism taxes on all visitors, Mr Rushbrook said.

It was not fair for taxpayers to pay all visitation costs and it was time for a change to protect New Zealand’s special corners, he said.

A significant increase in domestic visitors over the past two years has been fantastic for Central Otago’s economy, but Cornish Point’s parking issues were among the burdens, he said.

The council and Aukaha, a Ngai Tahu runanga consultancy, began working on the plan with residents, tour operators and national bodies in 2020.

Rushbrook said early estimates of the annual cost of implementing the plan were between $200,000 and $300,000.

In each project there were other related costs, but these were not fully understood.

One of the strategies was to look at other funding options, he said.

The plan was important because the region and the country needed to find a way for tourism to enrich visitors, residents and place, he said.

”While Central Otago has yet to be impacted by over-tourism, if left unmanaged there is certainly a risk that we will see tourism numbers negatively impact the region and that local residents are left to deal with the burdens.

Anthony Longman, destination development and marketing manager for Tourism Central Otago, said Ngai Tahu’s leadership and whanaukataka (kinship) created a strong sense of connection and common purpose.

Central Otago District Council chief executive Sanchia Jacobs said the plan was one of the largest quantitative research and consultations undertaken in the district.

Ngai Tahu inspired an intergenerational approach, she said.

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