Tourism infrastructure wishlists

1: Gravel roads in the Catlins are well travelled by tourists; 2: Central Otago is drawing...
1: Gravel roads in the Catlins are well travelled by tourists; 2: Central Otago is drawing tourists keen to sample the local grapes; 3: Toilet facilities are required to meet tourists’ needs; 4: Wanaka’s lonely tree draws hundreds of people keen to photograph it; 5: Traffic lights have now been put on the corner of Camp and Shotover Streets. Photos: ODT
A tax on tourists to fund infrastructure seems to be in the bag. Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis, at Trenz in Dunedin last week, was reported saying the tax could be in place by early next year. The Otago Daily Times asked tourism organisations in Otago beyond Dunedin for ideas on what new infrastructure was needed.

Queenstown

Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd provided a long list of ideas, some of which were already part of the Queenstown Lakes District Council’s long-term plan, others were from his organisation’s wish-list.

Pedestrianisation and downtown traffic calming/management — for example, shared zones — was at the top of the list, closely followed by road improvements into and within Queenstown.

That included the inner links bypass and "double laning" where possible.

Mr Budd also wanted to see the Kawarau Gorge, on State Highway 6, widened and straightened "as the key regional connector and supply route between Queenstown, Central Otago, Wanaka and beyond".

He echoed Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult’s comments, made after the $22million two-lane Kawarau Falls Bridge was fully opened last week, that a second crossing (near Boyd Rd, Frankton) was needed.

He also believed a double-lane or new bridge to replace the historic one-way Edith Cavell Bridge at Arthurs Point was required.

With regard to parking, Mr Budd said there was a need for resident and worker downtown parking options: more, better-quality parks, charging stations and "easy pay" options.

Wide pathways were needed to and from downtown Queenstown "and/or electric shuttle services" as well as "free subsidised bus services (electric vehicles) on trunk routes, gondola and water transport options".

He believed investment was also needed to create wide, sealed, marked and lit paths and cycleways between all communities across the area: from Fernhill/Sunshine Bay, through Queenstown to Jacks Point, Arthurs Point, Lake Hayes and Arrowtown.

He supported the creation of a community performance/arts and events/convention facility and encouraged the investigation of camping management facilities.

Other thoughts were "way-finding" and welcome signage, along with "fixed maps and guides around the district", the creation of a "clear, downtown ‘event’ space" which was fit for purpose, and buying "downtown property to vest as reserves, open [and] green space".

Central Otago

Tourism Central Otago general manager Glenys Coughlan said her organisation was about to release a new long-term strategy that would help guide the future development of tourism in the region.

"Importantly, it is based not on a growth for growth’s sake model, but on carefully targeting the kind of visitors that will really connect with the people and places of Central Otago."

One of the projects to be rolled out was the development of a tourism master plan for the region for the next 30 years.

"We want to understand what the development of tourism might look like under different growth scenarios so that we can identify what the demands on our infrastructure will be.

"We also need to identify where the infrastructure that is funded by Central Otago District Council and Central Government agencies like the New Zealand Transport Agency needs to be improved; and we need to look at the need for private sector investment in things like boutique accommodation, improved transport links for visitors across the region and new attractions."

Ms Coughlan said there was a need for public-private sector partnerships.

"With a relatively small resident population there is a limit to what residents and their rates can and should pay for to support tourism development."

Through her attendance at Trenz, Ms Coughlan said she found there was a demand for the Central Otago offering, and "a strong call to keep things authentic, boutique and real". 

"As part of our new tourism strategy we will be highlighting the kind of investment opportunities that we believe to be the right fit for Central Otago.

"There’s huge interest in wine tourism, for example, and also in our local and seasonal and ‘from the land’ cuisine, and in farm and orchard-based experiences."

Clutha

Destination Clutha marketing manager Toby Bennett said his organisation had only just heard the news about the prospect of a tax and had not had the opportunity to "chat about what it might mean for the district".

Waitaki

Tourism Waitaki general manager Margaret Munro said it was the "small touches" her district needed.

"Because we are spread from the Alps to the ocean and down the coastline somewhat, there is going to be a requirement for better toilet facilities, stopping facilities, and that sort of thing.

"If we are going to have higher volumes of people on our roads, it’s those sorts of facilities that are going to be needed."

The Waitaki district was working towards securing Unesco "global geopark" status in recognition of its sites of geological interest, and that, in addition to the Alps to Ocean cycleway, created a need for infrastructure improvements.

Ms Munro said the standard of toilets in the district was "not too bad" but they were "really spaced out a lot".

"It would be great to have a few picnic areas dotted along the Waitaki Valley and some tables, chairs and toilets.

"These small touches will make a difference to the tourists."

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