Hanmer and Kaikoura – these are areas synonymous with tourism and as such, make a big contribution to our economy. Kaikoura is an established tourist hub while Hanmer has long been a drawcard for both tourists and Christchurch city folk seeking a change of scenery close to home.
Very soon we will also see a new cycleway developed through the Hanmer region and St James Station is to be managed by DoC with concessionaires operating around the Waiau River and its tributaries. With tourism opportunities continuing to open up, areas such as Waiau and Hanmer will become bigger drawcards for urban people and tourists heading into the hinterland to enjoy the great outdoors.
With this increased tourism comes the need to provide improved facilities and services. Roads need upgrading to cater for increased numbers of vehicles including camper vans and buses. There will be a greater demand for adequate accommodation, emergency services, health services and policing. All these services need to be put in place and that means these tourist areas must be able to attract and retain the providers, ensuring they settle and stay within the community.
To adequately equip our emerging tourism areas with people we need the Department of Immigration to recognise the potential in people rather than just acknowledging qualifications where applicable to certain roles. Flexibility and some lateral thinking will be the key to success.
At present we still see a continual flow of people into our cities because that is where the amenities are. Then, come holiday time, everyone heads to the hinterland and the sometimes inadequate services are literally overwhelmed.
Authorities can try to combat this shortfall in seasonal tourist areas by loading rates but I think the tourism arm at Hanmer Springs does a great job in the way it manages the success of the thermal pools and uses the profits to improve facilities – a good example of future-proofed management.
Kaikoura is not exempt from the challenges facing tourist areas – although a long established hub, it is still a relatively small community that is, at times, overwhelmed with visitors. There’s a huge boost to the local economy in the summer months but there are also problems caused by some sectors such as freedom campers – and when environmental and health concerns are involved there’s a need for good staff and excellent management within the appropriate authorities.
We are living is a changing economy – whereas beef, sheep and dairy production were once the mainstay of many areas, we are now seeing a shift towards tourism and more communities are becoming dependent on the tourism dollar.
Hanmer, Kaikoura, Waiau, the Molesworth, and Waipara – all places have cachet for tourists and New Zealand holidaymakers – so we need to ensure we have the people and facilities to do these places proud. This will take forward thinking and good planning, not only by local authorities but by central Government departments. Flexibility and lateral thinking – we need to turn these words into actions now.