New concept of Victorian heritage tourism promoted

A proposal to boost tourism based on Oamaru's Victorian heritage is being proposed to reduce the reliance on the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony as the town's major attraction.

The "Inside Victorian Oamaru" concept is being promoted by former Totara Estate manager Scott Eliffe, with the aim of making Oamaru a destination for tourists rather than a place to pass through.

He is proposing a feasibility study into the concept which would further develop the Victorian heritage image of Oamaru into a world-class visitor experience by taking them on a journey back in time using state-of-the-art audio-visual, sound and light and dramatic live history performances.

It would lay the foundation to attract more costumed artisans and guides to Oamaru's historic precinct.

Mr Eliffe has approached the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust and Waitaki Development Board for funding for the feasibility study, which could cost up to $30,000.

The Waitaki District Council has been asked to provide $15,000 from its economic development fund towards the study, a request it will consider at its meeting on Tuesday.

The concept has the support of the civic trust.

The trust believed it was exactly the sort of attraction that would put Oamaru firmly at the top of a list of "must sees" for visitors to New Zealand.

"It is an excellent example of a community project that deserves a high level of district support," it said.

Mr Eliffe said the proposal had the ability to create up to 13 new jobs by its second year and generate up to $12 million directly and indirectly for the economy through attracting more visitors and having them stay in Oamaru.

The feasibility study would look at the use of the wider historic precinct, the benefit of a links with the penguin colony, development of a new campervan park, wider benefits to both tourism and other businesses in Oamaru and district benefits with links to other attractions such as Maori rock art.

The aim is to have the study completed later this year.


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