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World First Eco-Tourism Initiative For Karori

World First Eco-Tourism Initiative For Karori Wildlife Sanctuary

A new eco-tourism initiative at Wellington’s Karori Wildlife Sanctuary is expected to boost tourism earnings and enhance New Zealand’s international biodiversity research reputation.

The new Gateway Project, which has received Industry New Zealand support, is expected to boost visitor numbers to 150,000 per annum.

“The revenue from this will allow the continuation of the outstanding conservation work already started, said Nancy Ward, Chief Executive Officer of Karori Wildlife Sanctuary.

“It will also ensure we maintain our science focus and can build on offering unique urban nature experiences, for visitors and researchers.

“The Industry New Zealand support was essential. The business growth funding of the feasibility study covered critical areas such as market research, architecture and design consulting,” she said.

The project complements the New Zealand Tourism Board’s branding strategy of a 100% pure New Zealand experience and will help put Wellington and New Zealand on the map in terms of wildlife and heritage tourism.

Nancy Ward expects the Gateway project to be a pilot scheme for eco-tourism initiatives around the country and even around the world.

“This will be a world-class science and recreation facility. The sanctuary will make positive contributions to help grow New Zealand’s tourism industry by preserving our natural environment and repopulating the habitats with locally extinct and endangered species in a location available to all,” she said.

Industry New Zealand’s General Manager Central Region Claire Johnstone said that the establishment of the new project with its biodiversity focus would allow the sanctuary to undertake new levels of research and become a world-class education and tourism asset for the Wellington region and New Zealand.

“The key to industry growth for Wellington is to focus on innovation and value-added industries. By adding value to conservation and marketing it as a tourism tool, we can create long-term revenue growth and jobs.

“With the establishment of the new Gateway Project at Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, we have a chance to build on that international publicity and lead the way in terms of marketing Wellington and New Zealand as a top-end destination for this urban eco-tourism market,” said Ms Johnstone.

Positively Wellington Tourism Chief Executive Officer Tim Cossar agrees, saying that there is a global demand for unique and accessible wildlife experiences and the future of New Zealand tourism, and Wellington tourism in particular, will depend on how such experiences are delivered.

“It’s a huge untapped market for New Zealand. Currently, 35% of visitors to New Zealand are after an authentic natural wildlife heritage experience. They don’t necessarily get that as it is difficult for travellers with hectic schedules to get to our national parks and protected Islands. The sanctuary offers a unique glimpse of New Zealand’s heritage in an accessible location.

“The October 2002 issue of National Geographic touted New Zealand as an ‘international biodiversity hotspot’. That’s an immense endorsement of what we’ve got here in New Zealand in terms of heritage protection and preservation of natural habitat,” said Mr Cossar.

Mr Cossar said that the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary could clearly become one of Wellington's top visitor attractions - the number one product destination to follow Te Papa.

Nancy Ward said the sanctuary’s board of trustees are confident about the success of this unique eco-tourism project and of the long-term benefits it will bring to the local community and New Zealand as a whole.

“The sanctuary has a history of developing leading edge conservation technology and is fast becoming recognised as a centre of excellence in science and tourism,” she said.

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