The staggering success of West Coast Regional Council’s new “Untamed natural wilderness” brand has now seen it win in the Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) EXCELLENCE Awards.
Judges described the new brand and new marketing approach aimed at growing the tourism market on the West Coast as a “brilliant initiative”.
The project to develop the brand was announced as the winner of the Crown Fibre Holdings EXCELLENCE Award for Best Practice Contribution to Local Economic Development at a gala dinner in Auckland attended by more than 650 delegates from local and central government, and stakeholders, last night. Now in their fourth year, the EXCELLENCE Awards recognise and celebrate the key leadership role that local government plays in communities around the country.
Since the brand was launched in May 2016, the impact on tourism on the West Coast has been dramatic.
West Coast tourism expenditure is up 13.1 per cent ($61 million), compared to 9.1 per cent for the South Island and bed nights have increased by 85,170 between February 2016 and February 2017.
The 0.4 per cent increase in tourism market share, from 5.1 to 5.5 per cent, reversed six years of losses in less than a year.
The need to grow the tourism market was clear following the decline of other major economic sectors on the Coast, and the previous “West Coast of the Southern Alps” was not resonating with visitors.
Following consultation with tourism operators from Haast to Karamea, the brand was adopted.
When feedback from China indicated some concern about the meaning of “untamed” – that it may mean tourists may be bitten by snakes – specific Mandarin translations were developed to explain the brand wording:
- Untamed: a place not crowded which nature created
- Natural: as nature intended
- Wilderness: land not sea, untouched, remote, beautiful, clear and vast
LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says the new approach has been rightly lauded for the results it has achieved.
“It has been proved to have made a difference, has been celebrated far and wide and is an incredibly deserving winner of this award,” Mr Yule says.
Judges said the four West Coast councils realised they needed to come together to develop a brand for the region to make sure it was best placed to capitalise on the burgeoning tourism industry.
“They did it smartly and now have a very clear marketing approach which has been recognised by other industries. It is a brilliant initiative with immediate results.”