Te Tai Poutini West Coast Destination Management Plan (DMP) reference group had its first meeting on the 13 July. The group meets quarterly and consists of representatives from the four West Coast councils, iwi, and tourism industry representatives who had been engaged throughout the DMP development process.
The DMP, unveiled by Development West Coast (DWC) in December 2022, marks a significant milestone in shaping the future of tourism in the region. The DMP is a progressive positioning document that will enable tourism businesses and related activity to thrive and contribute to the region’s GDP. It sets a clear direction for tourism development, embracing sustainability and regenerative practices while preserving the unique cultural, heritage and natural assets that define Te Tai o Poutini.

Developed through a process of co-creation that began in 2020, the DMP aims to protect the region’s natural beauty and enhance the well-being of local communities while creating a resilient and thriving tourism industry that aligns with the principles of Te Whanaketanga 2050, the region’s economic development strategy.

“The purpose of this document is to protect our rohe (region), enhance the mana of our whenua and our tourism industry, and create a new regenerative tourism economy that benefits our communities now and into the future,” stated Patrick Dault, DWC Destination and Tourism Manager.

The framework in the DMP seeks to balance the need to attract new investment in tourism while enhancing the value to communities, and focuses on five strategic themes, each addressing specific areas critical to sustainable tourism:

Establishing a destination management system: Aiming to foster effective leadership, clear monitoring, and improved brand development to align with the region’s tourism goals.

Supporting economic recovery and growth: Focusing on building a resilient and diverse tourism industry, attracting investment, and enhancing visitor experiences.

Enhancing community engagement and social benefits: Prioritising community well-being, cultural storytelling, and fostering a strong connection between tourism and local communities.

Celebrating our cultural heritage: Putting a spotlight on Māori cultural experiences, developing cultural products, and engaging with indigenous tourism to showcase Te Tai Poutini’s unique identity. Respecting our rich colourful history from early settlement days and the heritage of our peoples’ past.

Protecting our natural assets: Working towards sustainability, educating visitors, and preserving the region’s pristine natural environment.

“We are taking a holistic and integrated approach to destination management, collaborating with stakeholders from various sectors to achieve the common goal of developing a well-managed, sustainable visitor destination,” said Dault.

The DMP emphasises the importance of giving a voice to West Coast communities, in shaping tourism’s future to create positive impacts for both residents and visitors. It also emphasises storytelling and marketing strategies that align with the values shared by locals and the visitiors we seek to attract.

The plan highlights key projects and priority activities for 2022, focusing on building operator capabilities, enhancing community trust, protecting the natural environment, and promoting cultural heritage. Moreover, it aims to establish an innovation ecosystem to foster tourism start-ups and encourage sustainable business practices.

As of mid-2023, implementation work has already begun, and the region is eager to lead the way in creating a world-class, regenerative, and sustainable tourism industry. By striking a balance between responsible tourism and preserving its unique cultural and environmental heritage, Te Tai o Poutini aspires to create an enriched experience for both locals and visitors alike.

The DMP reference group is identifying potential areas for regional gains, filling gaps, and connecting into existing work. Further information on the group members and the DMP can be found at www.tewhanaketanga.nz.