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Nelson Tasman Locals Right Behind Visitor Sector

Nelson Tasman’s visitor sector is the region’s hardest hit industry with a long road to recovery expected ahead. However, results of a recent survey conducted by the Nelson Regional Development Agency (NRDA) suggest that Nelson Tasman locals strongly support the visitor sector and have a keen desire to explore the region themselves, which will play a key role in the sector’s recovery.

832 people responded to the survey which was held from 1 – 11 May 2020, while the country was still at Alert Level 3. The majority (73%) of respondents are not employed in the tourism sector, representing a wide range of views.

“The number of responses received, and the depth of the comments show a real interest in the industry” says Mark Rawson, Chief Executive of NRDA. Pre-Covid, tourism directly employed one in ten people and contributed $660 million to the local economy - however this is expected to drop significantly in the next year.

Nearly all respondents (97%) feel that tourism brings benefits to the region. The sector underpins many aspects of our community which locals do not wish to lose. As well as boosting the economy and creating employment opportunities, locals recognise that tourism enables more hospitality businesses, retailers, and events to take place.

But these benefits come with challenges which need to be managed in the future when visitors return. The challenges felt by locals include pressure on the environment, overcrowding at their favourite locations and the presence of freedom camping. The survey results clearly indicate that there are many locals who wish to camp responsibly in selfcontained vehicles but there is a strong desire to limit freedom-camping on the whole.

Interestingly, more than half the respondents were unaware of the environmental projects which local tourism businesses support through direct funding and resources as well as their own initiatives. 85% agreed the region should offer low-carbon holiday options to align the visitor sector with the protection of the environment.

Locals reported a strong desire to explore the Top of the South themselves, once alert levels allowed. Golden Bay was the most popular destination cited with nearly 70% wishing to go there in the near future.

“We were surprised and heartened by the number of visitors who came over the Takaka Hill in the first weekend post lockdown” commented Jane Dixon of the Mussel Inn. “It was great to see Golden Bay up and buzzing again.”

The top activities which locals were looking forward to doing and willing to pay for within the region were dining out, spending a night away from home and taking a scenic tour.

“Winter in Nelson Tasman is incredible. The crisp clear sunny days are ideal for getting out and exploring the region” says Rawson. “Locals are encouraged to explore our extraordinary region with over 50 offers from local businesses making it especially easy to discover something new while remaining close to home.”

About Project Kōkiri

Project Kōkiri is a collaboration to respond to and mitigate the economic impacts of COVID19 on the Nelson Tasman region. The aim is to enable an economic response and regeneration that will stimulate the economy, protect and create new jobs and accelerate investment into the region.

The response has been initiated and led by the Nelson City Council, Tasman District Council, the Nelson Regional Development Agency, the Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce, Mana Whenua and the regionally based Government agencies including MSD, MBIE and MPI. The work of Project Kōkiri is integrated into the wider response to COVID-19 including the regions Civil Defence and Emergency Management (CDEM) group.

Project Kōkiri will act as the “war room” of the economic response and regeneration working to cushion the immediate impacts of the economic fallout, fuel our recovery efforts and rebuild a more resilient and sustainable economy for the people of Nelson Tasman.

© Scoop Media

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