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Tourism operators aim high

Wairarapa tourism operators are being represented at an industry convention in Wellington that could provide a much-needed boost for the region.

Run by Tourism Industry Aotearoa, Trenz is a three-day business event designed to connect local businesses with international capital that’s being at Wellington’s Te Papa and finishes today.

Destination Wairarapa and Carterton-based Star Safari are among more than 313 firms attending the event, along with around 300 international buyers from 25 different countries.

It’s a highly competitive environment, with operators accessing buyers through 15-minute meetings, of which over 15,000 have been booked across the core days.

Destination Wairarapa general manager Anna Neilson said the region’s international dark sky reserve status is a key message in their pitch to buyers.

“We’re thrilled that Star Safari has invested in attending Trenz. Their tours let visitors explore the night sky from one of the best stargazing locations in the world.

“Trenz provides us with a hugely powerful channel to promote this and our region directly to these important buyers.”

Star Safari partners Sam Leske and Hari Mogosanu said the event is putting them in front of a segment of the industry they otherwise wouldn’t connect with, giving them the chance to put Wairarapa’s night sky on the map.

“The opportunity is massive – the exposure to that market is really unprecedented for a tourism business.”

Buyers will also enjoy a specialised tour of the region organised by Wellington NZ that will showcase the region’s restaurants, hotels, wine and honey tours, and – of course – the night sky.

It comes against the backdrop of a challenging year for Wairarapa’s tourism economy, with a clear need to raise revenue and differentiate the region’s offering.

The Infometrics Quarterly Economic Monitor for Wairarapa shows a 6.6 per cent decrease in tourism expenditure for the 2023 year, against a 9.8 per cent increase for the country.

However, Leske and Mogosanu said their business has experienced “consistent growth for the summer”, thanks to an influx of international visitors.

“That’s carried right through to now… last year there was probably no more than a handful.”

With most visitors coming during the summer, Destination Wairarapa is out to attract visitors for the off-peak months as well, supporting businesses along the way.

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