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Visitor Economy is Auckland’s $12 b opportunity

Visitor economy is auckland’s $12 billion opportunity

Auckland has the opportunity to increase visitor expenditure in the region by $12 billion and deliver a host of additional benefits to its residents over the next decade, with the right investments in tourism.

That’s the finding of Bringing the World to Auckland, a newly released report by regional economic development agency AucklandPlus, which was endorsed by the Auckland Regional Economic Development Forum this week.

Bringing the World to Auckland outlines the case for investment in Auckland’s visitor economy, and outlines the critical investments and actions needed to reap the rewards for the region. The document is part of the implementation of Auckland’s Metro Project Action Plan.

David McConnell of McConnell International, who chaired the steering group which oversaw the development of the report, says a fundamental change is needed if Auckland is to capitalise on the potential of its visitor economy.

“Auckland must transform itself from a gateway into a world-class destination. It is doable and if we get it right the rewards will be a better place to live for Aucklanders and big dollars into the regional economy,” Mr McConnell says.

The financial modelling in the report shows that visitors to Auckland currently increase the region’s base population by 5.5% but if that were to grow to 7.8% by 2018, the corresponding rise in direct visitor expenditure over that period (above forecast natural growth) would be $12b.

“But the dollars are only a small part of the story,” Mr McConnell says. “The reason that the visitor economy is a fundamental driver for change is that the visitor economy underwrites Auckland’s amenity level. It can help to improve quality and range of goods and services that Aucklanders use regularly, provide activities that residents wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to take part in and deliver a spirited city-region.

“This in turn leads to attraction and retention of talent, greater wealth and employment, improved labour productivity and regional pride. It creates a spiralling positive climate for continued investment, growth and success for Auckland and New Zealand’s economy.”

AucklandPlus Chair Michael Barnett says the investment proposition outlined in Bringing the World to Auckland is realistic.

It recommends a regional investment of $5m per year for the establishment of a regional tourism agency backed up by a $1.5b central government investment in infrastructure and attractors.

“The payoff over 10 years would be an additional $1.8b in government tax take and an additional $7.21b in regional GDP for Auckland. That’s a great return by anybody’s standards.

Mr Barnett says the establishment of a regional visitor agency is the critical first investment needed to start the ball rolling.

“We need a regional visitor agency to lead destination marketing and destination management for the region. The agency would also include a convention bureau and an associated regional major events office,” Mr Barnett says. “It’s a realistic short term goal and it’s a ‘must have’ for Auckland.”

Other critical investments highlighted in Bringing the World to Auckland would include a national convention centre, signature attractions on strategic waterfront sites, harbour and gulf island access and cruise ship infrastructure.

“If we do these things we will create an incentive for the private sector to invest in Auckland’s visitor economy,” Mr Barnett says.

Bringing the World to Auckland has had the benefit of input from the public and private sectors. Tourism Holdings Limited’s Sean Murray believes the steps outlined in the document may hold the key to unlocking Auckland’s potential as a destination.

“The investigation and thinking that has gone into Bringing the World to Auckland has finally broken the mould. It has gone past the usual glib standard words about marketing concepts as they apply to the visitor industry and has not fallen into the trap of leaping straight into notions of brand and logo and campaign,” Mr Murray says.

“The plan recognises that a positive visitor experience is much more than looking at the scenery, the meal on the boat or the comfort of the bed. It’s about the things you see around you that define your impressions of a place; the differences; buildings; recreation zones; the people you meet; the ease with which you can get around; and so on.”

“It is also important to emphasise that planning and investment within the visitor industry is mutually beneficial to those people who live here,” Mr Murray says.

He predicts a willingness from the private sector to get involved with the implementation of Bringing the World to Auckland.

ENDS

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