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Destination management strategy guides Waikato tourism

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Our Waikato is a region of such appealing diversity, from awe-inspiring natural wonders like the mighty Waikato River, the Waitomo Caves and surfing beaches to award-winning eateries, intriguing museums, magical movie locations, and welcoming people. Here at Hamilton & Waikato Tourism (HWT) we work to a carefully considered an ever-evolving strategy – a destination management (DM) plan – that guides how we develop our tourism sector in a sustainable way and undertake vital marketing of the region.

The DM approach is a key focus of the New Zealand-Aotearoa Government Tourism Strategy that aims to enrich the country through sustainable tourism growth underpinned by productive, sustainable, and inclusive tourism.

Using international research, Government frameworks and industry consultation, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has established five goals to achieve this. These include for tourism to support thriving and sustainable regions; for productivity in the sector to improve; for the country to deliver exceptional visitor experiences; for tourism to restore and champion our natural environment, culture, and historic heritage; and for Kiwi lives to be improved by tourism.

Sitting under these goals there are 16 principles, or kaupapa, of destination management, ranging from defining the destination and the vision to marketing and promotion and environmental stewardship – see graph for all 16.

To bring this home and give it full meaning in the Waikato, our ultimate goal is to use tourism to enable positive benefits for our region’s communities, people, culture and environment.

Our vision is for the Waikato to be celebrated for providing encounters that are real New Zealand experiences – that the Waikato is a special place where kaitiaki (guardianship of our environment) runs deep, mana (strength, pride, and identity) inspires and where there are unforgettable discoveries to be made.

As an early adopter of the DM approach, in 2016 HWT developed a Tourism Opportunities Plan to support the long-term growth of the sector and increase the economic value, and benefits of tourism to the region.

This plan provided the framework and direction for delivering new and improved tourism experiences, attractions, and infrastructure, while at the same time enhancing livability for our local residents taking into
consideration social, economic, cultural and environmental opportunities, as well as knowing where there might be risk. 

With the starting point being the understanding that if our natural world is healthy, so too are our people (taiao ora tangata ora), Waikato tourism DM works to:

•Provide connections between visitors, local residents and industry sectors

•Live our brand values – surprising, magical, and authentic Waikato experiences

•Embrace guests –manaakitanga

•Ensure regenerative tourism that actively contributes to the community and the environment – kaitiakitanga

•Foster innovation – always looking at ways to improve and adapt.

To bring these aims to life we continue to invite the perspectives and aspirations of our Waikato residents – across the board including iwi, the tourism sector, local businesses, and local and central Government.

Our DM plan is a living strategy that will continue to evolve as the operating environment we work in changes, partnerships develop and progress, new research comes to light, new policies are adopted, and new opportunities and challenges, such as national and global events, occur.

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About Author

Nicola Greenwell

Interim General Manager, Hamilton & Waikato Tourism