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Wairarapa’s new tourism boss gets her “dream job”

Report from LDR
David Hancock is handing over the helm of Destination Wairarapa after eight years to Toast Martinborough boss Anna Nielson.

Chair Robin Dunlop said the board was delighted to find a really “top notch” replacement for Hancock.

Destination Wairarapa is the Regional Tourism Organisation for Wairarapa. Its role is to attract more visitors, who stay longer and spend more, and grow Wairarapa’s tourism revenue to $212m by 2025, while shallowing the low-to-high season trough.

In an interview Hancock said he was proud to have stabilised the finances when he first arrived and to have delivered more services even after a budget cut a few years ago. “Event organisers tell us they have never had such good numbers turning up.”

Tourism operators in the region were not just 280 individual businesses, they were a lot closer to working as an industry.

“It’s important they get strength off each other and work together to improve collectively,” Hancock said. In his latest report to the Audit and Risk Committee of the Masterton District Council in November he said the 2015 tourism revenue goal could be achieved by 2021. In the year ended May 2019 the industry was generating $195.82m which was average annual growth of $12.36m from the $134m benchmark in 2014. This is double what was forecast back in 2014.

“With the 2025 Framework drawing to a conclusion as a longer term goal, the next Tourism Industry Aotearoa framework is based on a series of sustainability goals,” he reported to the committee. “In Europe there is a real movement to not to fly anywhere. That has implications for how tourism is going to work with people to help make it acceptable for them to still travel and be comfortable their carbon is offset,” he said in the interview.

“These are the things the industry should be looking at.”

He said people still wanted to holiday. “And the domestic and friends and family market will always be the biggest market for Wairarapa.”

He said there was a review of what Destination Wairarapa did and this was a “very healthy thing”. “Nobody does what we do, marketing the whole region, but there are other things that are being done or trying to be done.

“One of the questions is because we are really good at marketing and relationships and plugging people into each other are we a better organisation to be delivering that stuff.”

Nielson has had a long and successful association with the food and beverage sector, including being a co-founder and co-director of Wellington on a Plate. She describes her new role as a “dream job” and one that she has had her eye on for a long time.

“I feel as though what I have done and where I have come from, this new role is the perfect fit . . . I’m very excited,” Nielson said.

She was proud of what she achieved as general manager of Toast Martinborough, a position she started in 2015 at a critical stage with the introduction of new legislation around the sale and supply of alcohol. She was also instrumental in the creation of Wellington on a Plate, the now annual month-long, city-wide event credited with lifting the Wellington restaurant industry out of the winter doldrums.

Among some of her other notable achievements was being part of the team that successfully wooed the famous Le Cordon Bleu French cooking school to Wellington.

“We are a food and wine destination, but there are so many other things that make Wairarapa a fantastic place to live or chose to come and visit,” she says.

“The scenery here is spectacular, with our big skies, and stunning coastline; the Tararua Forest Park is so accessible providing some wonderful walks and huts; there is always plenty to see and do in our towns. I want to carry on the tremendous work that is being done and help contribute to Wairarapa becoming a place that people want to keep visiting and then go home and brag about where they have been.”

Nielson is married to husband Scott, together they have two children and live in Greytown.

In its latest financial year Destination Wairarapa got $467,823 from councils, $68,808 from member subscriptions and $160,148 from the Trust House Foundation. It also got $92,253 from providing goods and services, which include i-Sites.

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