A Word from Dylan Rushbrook, Tourism Central Otago general manager

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Ensuring that tourism benefits all

Is it possible to truly develop a visitor destination that future generations will appreciate, and a destination that everyone can reap the benefits of?

Those questions, and more, will be asked of our communities by Tourism Central Otago over the coming months as we seek input towards developing a destination management plan for Central Otago.

The plan is really more a vision with a 50-year horizon, to outline the preferred future state and how we best get there.

For many people, putting aside the concerns of today, to think long term can be challenging, but when done well it can also be rewarding.

The way I’m looking at this is, “How can I make positive steps forward to protect what makes Central Otago special for my 2- and 4-year-old boys in their future?’.”

I want them to look back at my decisions in 50 years and be proud of the calls we made, and what we created.

Tourism can be a force for good and bad. In the past, tourism has overrun communities for the benefits of a few corporates.

The impacts are wide, but the benefits can be limited to only a few if not managed well.

By no means do I think Central Otago is in a situation where big business is only taking, without contributing to our communities.

Currently, most tourism businesses in the district are small, and the benefits of those businesses being successful means community and social wellbeings are enhanced.

We have school bus drivers, sports club volunteers and more as part of the fabric of our tourism business ownership.

But I think about, “What if we keep growing?”

What happens if a large offshore-owned hotel were to be built in Central Otago?

Yes, there would be employment opportunities, but 90% of those are at a junior level.

On past evidence, you would expect most of the profits to go offshore, while the burden of supplying infrastructure such as roading falls to the ratepayers of Central Otago.

What can be done to ensure offshore businesses reinvest money back into the community they operate within?

How do we make that happen at a local government level?

We want to hear from you.

How do we make this work for the future? Please connect with us if you would like to be a part of this important conversation on tourism@codc.govt.nz