The sun gods have shone kindly on this year’s event. Excellent media coverage and promotion to the ever larger numbers on cruise ships docking in Auckland have seen the event take Waiheke a giant leap forward as a visitor destination. Great local wineries offering fine cuisine and excellent tasting rooms have also experienced a lift in business during HSOG.
Waiheke has so much to offer the sophisticated traveller that it is now a ‘must visit’ on the New Zealand tourist map. The island’s beaches, boutique accommodation, wineries, restaurants and cafes not only service the main visitor trade but have assisted growth in the newer and booming wedding market. The tide of tourists cannot be turned back.
ATEED, Auckland Council’s tourism, events and economy development arm, see Waiheke as one of their major draw cards in promoting Auckland as a world class visitor destination. They have seized the initiative away from Waiheke’s visitor unfriendly local board to ensure Waiheke gets the attention it deserves in promotion to an international audience.
Tourism is the lifeblood of the island. Many island jobs depend on it, as do numerous small businesses. Increased visitor numbers will probably ensure continuation of the new ferry service. Directly and indirectly we all benefit from more visitors.
To maintain these benefits more investment is needed in island infrastructure. It is the Local Board’s role to make the case for more resources from Auckland Council not go off half cock chasing ‘go it alone’ pipe dreams that are both costly and unsustainable.
Without tourism there wouldn’t be enough numbers to justify competition on the ferries, business and the economy would falter and eventually stall and die. This might be what the Greens on the island want but it is not what the community as a whole, Auckland or New Zealand want. Opposition is mounting to this stupid short-sighted idea. It is time businesses and all who have invested in their own and their children’s future make their voices heard.