Event strategy to focus on more visitors to the Waikato region.

Hamilton & Waikato Tourism is entering 2017 with what chief executive Jason Dawson has called its 'game-changing projects".

Dawson said the Waikato is the fifth largest tourism region in New Zealand, attracting well over $1 billion in visitor expenditure annually.

As part of its 10 year growth plan, which began in 20141, Hamilton & Waikato Tourism seeks to increase visitor contributions via the region to $1.35 billion by 2025.

"The Waikato River is at the heart of the 10 year plan to boost tourism and visitor numbers to the Waikato," said Dawson.

"The Waikato River is our unique selling proposition which no other region in the country can lay claim to."

He emphasised part of the company's Tourism Opportunities Plan was to reflect the "mighty Waikato River" coursing through the other tourism game changers, including Maori Tourism.

"Waikato-Tainui, Te Puni Kokiri, Tainui Waka Tourism, local councils, the tourism industry and a number of other stakeholders will be working together around a plan and on some of the new opportunities and products being developed," said Dawson.

"Maori tourism presents an opportunity for the region to tell its cultural story, with a potential focus on the Kingitanga, the Waikato River and our natural environment. Developing authentic, cultural local experiences is what the domestic and international traveller is seeking."

The organisation will also place a significant emphasis on the Hamilton city waterfront, helping to implement plans to revitalise the Waikato River and develop a range of ways to engage with this significant waterway," said Dawson.

In sync with this, the organisation aims to develop a Regional Events Strategy that will further encourage events such as Balloons Over Waikato to become established in the region.

Dawson said the first step in developing the events strategy will be an audit on current and emerging events across the region.

Development of the events strategy will be undertaken in conjunction with local councils, iwi, business, industry and community groups.


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