Infrastructure needed for Northland's tourism industry to thrive

By Dean Nathan

There are good signs for the Northland economy with a sharp rise in tourist numbers visiting the region. But the local Māori MP says the district's infrastructure needs an overhaul in order for the industry to thrive.

Statistics NZ figures show that international guests stayed in Northland for 5000 more nights in February this year compared to February last year.

Greg McManus, Waitangi National Trust Chief Executive told Te Kāea, “Yeah we had a really good summer so our international visitation is up quite considerably but also domestically as well.  A lot more Aucklanders are coming up here and I think that bodes well for the future.”

“Just seeing the culture the scenery, the setting, and the signing of the treaty the whole thing where it originated from, it’s just been amazing,” says English Tourist Sarah Smith.

Despite the obvious benefits, Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis says the government can do a lot more to assist Northland's burgeoning tourism industry.

“What's most important is that they don't just visit the Bay of Islands but travel around Northland.

However, our roads and infrastructure are in a tragic state and needs a major overhaul to enable the industry here to flourish.”

Over 794,000 international and domestic tourists visited Northland in the year to February 2016. It's a primary focus in Northland to take advantage of the rapid increase in Chinese visitors.

“I think it’s very good, especially when you live in New Zealand and kids are born here.  It’s even good to know that it’s important for us as well,” says Chinese Tourist, Crystal Sun.

McManu says he’s received good feedback from visitors, “I talk to a lot of our international visitors and a lot of them say that they've been recommended to come up to Northland first and to learn a bit about the history of New Zealand to help them understand the rest of New Zealand when they travel through it and that's what we're experiencing.”

It's promising signs but real infrastructure is needed for Northland's tourism industry to thrive.