Visitors welcome in Whanganui

Whanganui & Partners' visitor campaign key to supporting local businesses

A 20-metre long billboard in New Plymouth is sending a clear message to Whanganui’s neighbours planning their summer getaways; Whanganui has everything a domestic visitor needs this summer.

As viewers pause their favourite TVNZ OnDemand show tonight, they’ll be shown a beautiful image of canoeists on Whanganui River while they’re invited to, “Take time to pause in real life too”.

Promoting Whanganui is a 365-day a year job for Whanganui & Partners but summer is typically when the agency ramps up activity to work Whanganui onto travellers’ itineraries.

This year is no different and Whanganui & Partners is focused on supporting local businesses by attracting visitors and building on Whanganui’s growing profile as a destination of choice.

It has been a disruptive year for our business community and many are looking for a bumper summer, Whanganui & Partners Acting Chief Executive Jonathan Sykes said.

Whanganui & Partners is increasing its promotional activity with this in mind, beginning with advertising on billboards, posters, social media and online display in areas within a 3-hour drive of the city.

The agency received $700k this year in the government’s Tourism Communities: Support, Recovery and Re-set Plan, allowing it to build on the momentum gained through its biggest ever marketing campaign last year.

“Whanganui had the best tourism growth in New Zealand last year and we want to maintain that impetus for our visitor industries and local businesses,” Sykes said. “We have had hundreds of thousands of unique visitors to our Discover Whanganui website on the back of advertising efforts. Whanganui is firmly on visitor wish lists now.”

Sykes said domestic tourists would be keen to travel this summer and now was the time to make sure Whanganui was getting the exposure it deserves as an exceptional visitor destination.

Whanganui & Partners continually tracked consumer spend figures for Whanganui and the data proved encouraging.

“Our economy is showing really positive signs. The figures for the week ending December 5 were up 8.5 per cent on the same week last year, compared to just 0.5 per cent nationally. Experiencing consistent consumer spend growth, as we have been, is exceptional at a time when the business community has faced numerous challenges.”

However, Sykes said the figures specific to hospitality and accommodation were down on last year. “We are supporting our visitor industries and communicating the message Whanganui is a welcoming and exciting place to visit this summer, at every chance we get.”

Advertising was highly visible outdoors, in malls, on social media and on screens, Sykes said.

“We’re inviting people to experience the best of both worlds in Whanganui. We have been deliberate and bold in our propositions, we know Whanganui has made huge gains in the domestic visitor industry and now is the time to keep our foot on the accelerator.”

The advertising featured Whanganui’s diverse offerings, Sykes said.

“We’re showing people you can take a leisurely stroll through the arts precinct in the morning, sit down to lunch at a trendy café, then go for an adrenaline-packed mountain bike ride before dinner. Whanganui offers incredible variety for visitors.”

The advertising activity will intensify early next year as Whanganui & Partners embarks on a project to expand its visual representation of Whanganui and all it has to offer.

“This work is centred on capturing what makes Whanganui an exciting place full of promise and opportunity,” Sykes said.

Mayor Hamish McDouall said inviting visitors to Whanganui supported the local economy and enabled the region to build on its reputation as uniquely inviting.

“We encourage people to come to Whanganui and experience what makes this place so special. Our manaakitanga is more important than ever after a time in which our ability to connect has been limited.

“The world knows this is an exceptional place; as we’ve just seen with our lifelong UNESCO City of Design recognition. We can’t wait to share all the great things Whanganui has to offer visitors and the timing couldn’t be better as New Zealanders look for travel inspiration close to home.”

McDouall encouraged people to travel responsibly and to be mindful of the Covid Protection Framework as the region moved to an Orange setting.

Sykes said it was important local businesses took advantage of the boost in visitor numbers in the months ahead.

“There will be an influx of people over the summer, particularly as most of the country moves to Orange and there are fewer travel restrictions. We encourage businesses to be accessible and take advantage of the trade opportunities that arise.

“While we are boosting our promotional activity we are mindful of the importance of visitors’ impressions. We want them to rave about Whanganui and all the great places to see, eat at, and enjoy. This sustains our reputation in the long-term and helps our economy grow exponentially.”

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