Marlborough’s unique natural attributes and prime location as a road, rail and marine transportation hub have seen the Visitor Economy become a backbone of the region’s economy.
From a tourism perspective, the region is home to a range of diverse and picturesque landscapes, from alpine peaks and high-country grasslands to fertile plains and river valleys, to the iconic Marlborough Sounds, which comprise almost one-fifth of New Zealand’s coastline.
Marlborough’s attractions include wine tourism, sailing, cruising and winter sports. The Visitor Economy is based on the region’s natural assets, wine and food industry and most recently, an increasing share of the New Zealand cruise ship and conference markets.
The Visitor Economy also refers to economic potential beyond the tourism sector, in areas such as education, creative industries and the screen sector. Equally, the Visitor Economy can play a critical role in attracting skilled migrants to the region.
The Kaikōura Earthquake in November 2016 dealt a major blow to the region’s Visitor Economy, due to the closure of State Highway 1 from Christchurch. Since the reopening of the Highway in December 2017, however, the sector has staged a remarkable recovery, with sustained growth over pre-earthquake levels.
In the second half of 2018, the Smart+Connected Visitor Economy Group undertook a review of the Marlborough Smart+Connected Visitor Economy Growth Plan 2015-2025. This review led to a focus on three specific areas for the period 2019-2020.
- Leveraging Bike Walk development – making effective use of the rapidly developing network of rural and urban cycling and walking trails to attract visitors to Marlborough
- Strengthening synergies between operators – encouraging collaboration between operators in the Visitor Economy sector
- Leveraging regional events and conferences – encouraging coordination and information flow between conference and event organisers and local businesses to ensure maximum economic benefit for Marlborough.