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Rotorua events scene punching above its weight

20 March 2017

Rotorua events scene punching above its weight

Crankworx is luring more visitors to Rotorua and not just during the event, says local bike shop owner Craig Corbett.

“We get a lot of tourists coming through, both domestic and international tourists who have come to visit Crankworx and they come looking for either service or goods so it’s very positive for us,” the NZO Ride Central owner says.

“It’s not necessarily always during Crankworx either. They come here at some stage because they’ve watched Crankworx online and they think ‘I’ve got to go there and check it out’. So I’m getting people from New Caledonia, the Philippines and South America who are coming here because they’ve seen the Enduro World Series at Crankworx.

“Crankworx has really raised the awareness in the local community and for that global mountain biking community, it’s really put us on the map,” Craig says.

Outside of Crankworx mountain bike events dominate the Rotorua events calendar. There’s everything from the annual Moonride and the 2W Gravity Enduro series four times a year to national cross country and downhill races in Whakarewarewa forest.

“When we have biking events on the weekends we are busy all week beforehand. People come to town a couple of days early to ride the trails and get used them and they come in for repairs so there’s a direct spin-off [from the event] for our business.”

Craig turned his love of biking into a business opportunity and caters to everything mountain biking in Rotorua.

Ahead of Crankworx 2018 Craig and his seven staff prepared for a busy period at the shop and out on the trails.

“During Crankworx there’s definitely a pick-up in business but I think the bigger exposure is bringing more people to Rotorua, either domestic or international people. They’re coming here as a key destination to go mountain biking,” he says.

“Those people are staying somewhere, they’re getting food from somewhere … there’s a whole bigger picture here.

“And we have a very proactive community, from trail builders and event organisers to retail shops, transport people and tour guides. It’s all part of this jigsaw puzzle and the whole jigsaw sits together pretty well.”

A long-time rider himself, Craig has two sons who are avid mountain bikers and says having some of the best riders in the world attending Crankworx Rotorua is a great incentive for young people to get out on their bikes.

“The guys they’ve seen on digital media are here in real life and they’re out talking to the locals.

“A couple of young guys from the shop were out riding and some of the Santa Cruz team turned up asking where to ride. So our guys were showing them around and they were just on cloud nine thinking how cool it was to be out riding with them,” Craig says.

“It gives them aspirations to ride more and ride better and we’ve certainly got a lot of facilities here that allow them to do that. The infrastructure has grown a lot and things like Crankworx have a role to play in that growth.”

According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) major events have the potential to increase tourism revenue, create new business and trade opportunities and long term outcomes include a high value economy and vibrant communities and culture.

In 2013 Rotorua Lakes Council saw an opportunity to set a vision for the next two decades and that included a strategy to improve the contribution of the sport and recreation industry and the benefit it has to Rotorua’s economy.

“I see some of those challenges that Council has in finding the balance between supporting and encouraging things to come to life and produce the overall benefits,” Craig says.

“I think it’s important that the Council facilitates things. It’s not just about the money, that’s an aspect [but] they need to set up platforms to allow these things to flourish and eventually stand on their own two feet.

“I think there’s an equal share of benefit between the community and the biking community resulting from Crankworx. It’s not just the actual athletes [coming to Rotorua] but all the support people as well so I think there’s a general community benefit which is probably the biggest one,” Craig says.

“The other big benefit is for the biking community - being able to get some of the top riders in the world here to inspire them to ride more often, more frequently and get better.

Events like Crankworx are a trigger that gives people a reason to visit Rotorua, Craig says.

“Rotorua is a great place to come for a long weekend to enjoy all that it has got and the events often give people a reason to come here.

“We’ve got great facilities and a lot of infrastructure already here. We give people a reason to visit and it works really well.

“I think we are definitely punching above our weight.”


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