Events will bring thousands to Whanganui

Local accommodation and hospitality providers have a busy summer ahead.

As visitors prepare for an events season without limitations, Whanganui & Partners, which is a sponsor of the city’s biggest events, says there will be thousands of visitors travelling to Whanganui over the summer months.

Jonathan Sykes, Strategic Lead of Marketing and manager of Whanganui & Partners’ event funding, said it had been great to secure the Colgate Games in addition to the city’s regular big events.

“We welcome thousands of visitors for our famous Cemetery Circuit, Vintage Weekend and Masters Games and they make a significant impact on our economy and businesses. These events have a hugely positive impact not only on our economy but on Whanganui’s perception and reputation.”

Sykes said the success of these events and their popularity with visitors and locals were proof points for Whanganui’s ability to grow its event offering.

“It’s been brilliant to be able to add another big event to the schedule – especially coming out of a period where our hospitality and accommodation providers have been under huge pressure.”

Sykes said the public also enjoyed the excitement and atmosphere that lifted the city when big events were on.

“We’ve missed the opportunity to be hosts of festivals and events over the last year and a half and having the freedom to welcome national and international visitors back to for these special occasions is fantastic,” Sykes said.

The swell in visitor numbers while these events were on meant accommodation providers often reached maximum capacity and cafes and restaurants found themselves exceptionally busy.

“Having an adequate number of rooms available is always a challenge during these periods. We believe adding to the city’s accommodation offering is important if we want to keep improving and growing our events and visitor industry.

“Visitors to Whanganui boost our economy and benefit our local community and businesses, the impact of events is overwhelmingly positive and we’re want to see our events offering continue to grow.”

Sykes said some events had considered temporary measures such as opening areas for camping and motorhomes, while others had encouraged people to consider offering rooms or their homes if they had space or were away themselves.

“There is some availability through peer-to-peer accommodation, such as Air BnB, in Whanganui but it is limited. We know event organisers have looked into various options to boost accommodation availability during events but find they don’t have capacity to take the task on.

“There is an opportunity for enterprising locals to be innovative in this space. That could be through managing short-term camping space or registering with peer-to-peer accommodation businesses.”

Sykes said Whanganui & Partners had commissioned a hotel feasibility study because the agency recognised a need for more accommodation access in the city. While ideally a private investor would take up the opportunity to develop a new hotel, that would take some time, Sykes said.

He said Whanganui & Partners had previously encouraged people to register with its i-SITE Visitor Information Centre if they had the opportunity to offer their homes during peak visitor periods.

“People can continue to do this, but it is not the preferred role of the i-SITE. Visitors are welcome to book hotel and motel rooms through the i-SITE, and our staff there keep track of Whanganui’s room availability, but managing private accommodation is not their primary role.”

In addition to accommodation demand, visitors to the city also presented opportunities for cafés and restaurants to make the most of, Sykes said.

“Feedback from people during event periods is overwhelmingly positive but we know one thing people often comment on is difficultly finding an open café or eatery during weekends and holiday periods in particular.”

Sykes said Whanganui & Partners encouraged businesses to plan ahead for events periods so that they could benefit from the boost in trade opportunities.


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