Rocket tourism boost for Mahia

Hawke's Bay Regional Council lifts rocket tourism with $20,000 cash.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council lifts rocket tourism with $20,000 cash.

File picture

HAWKE'S Bay Regional Council will give rocket tourism a $20,000 cash injection.

With international satellite launch company Rocket Lab’s establishment of a launch pad on the Mahia Peninsula, ideas and ways to promote rocket tourism are beginning to take flight.

Regional council chairman Fenton Wilson said they had agreed to spend $20,000 to canvass inbound tourists to the rocket launches, and ask questions around tourist infrastructure, district attractions and sufficient accommodation availability.

The regional council confirmed the decision at its corporate and strategic committee meeting after a scope study on regional rocket tourism was completed.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said it was great the regional council was investing in rocket tourism research, and that it showed the region was working together.

“The regional council is doing its bit for tourism in the region and it’s great to see it is serious about Rocket Lab and what the company is doing.”

The scope study was run by Hawke’s Bay-based Giblin group and TRC Tourism, and led by national tourism expert Dave Bamford.

Funding also came from Wairoa District Council (which invested $5000), Hawke’s Bay Tourism ($10,000), Gisborne District Council/Activate Tairawhiti ($5000), the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council ($13,000) and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment ($33,000).

Interviews with locals

The study involved interviews with locals, discussions with the Rocket Lab team and advice from local and central government.

It found that while observing rocket launches was likely to attract some additional tourists it was difficult to quantify how popular it would be.

It also noted further investment could be required for facilities and services, but noted local private operators were taking a “wait-and-see” approach rather than ramping up capacity in anticipation.

The scope study noted there was a limited range of accommodation and hospitality options in the district, which could put constraints on visitor experiences.

Conversations with local businesses and people indicated a “wait-and-see” attitude regarding the rocket lab launch activity and whether it would boost the local economy.

“There was a feeling that while anything like this that comes to town and supports the community is good, there were opportunities without Rocket Lab to improve the tourism offering of the district.”

Viewing sites

Wairoa District Council intends to develop viewing sites with parking and toilet facilities as an initial priority, and has proposed a space visitor centre for education and tourism, and a “space coast” cycleway between Wairoa and Mahia.

The report stated regional council economic development staff will remain involved in the project through participation in a proposed steering group and up to $20,000 in funding will be made available to support further market research.

“Further research will ensure any proposals from Wairoa District Council for funding support are based on sound analysis and evidence of demand and financial sustainability.”

The scope report said that central government was focused on regional economic growth, pointing to the 2016 Budget, which announced $94.4 million of new funding over the next four years for regional initiatives to boost economic growth and benefit communities in New Zealand.

Regional council staff believed there were good prospects that rocket tourism would add to the mix of a growing number of tourism product offerings in Northern Hawke’s Bay and should be part of an overall package of work to promote Wairoa as a destination.

HAWKE'S Bay Regional Council will give rocket tourism a $20,000 cash injection.

With international satellite launch company Rocket Lab’s establishment of a launch pad on the Mahia Peninsula, ideas and ways to promote rocket tourism are beginning to take flight.

Regional council chairman Fenton Wilson said they had agreed to spend $20,000 to canvass inbound tourists to the rocket launches, and ask questions around tourist infrastructure, district attractions and sufficient accommodation availability.

The regional council confirmed the decision at its corporate and strategic committee meeting after a scope study on regional rocket tourism was completed.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said it was great the regional council was investing in rocket tourism research, and that it showed the region was working together.

“The regional council is doing its bit for tourism in the region and it’s great to see it is serious about Rocket Lab and what the company is doing.”

The scope study was run by Hawke’s Bay-based Giblin group and TRC Tourism, and led by national tourism expert Dave Bamford.

Funding also came from Wairoa District Council (which invested $5000), Hawke’s Bay Tourism ($10,000), Gisborne District Council/Activate Tairawhiti ($5000), the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council ($13,000) and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment ($33,000).

Interviews with locals

The study involved interviews with locals, discussions with the Rocket Lab team and advice from local and central government.

It found that while observing rocket launches was likely to attract some additional tourists it was difficult to quantify how popular it would be.

It also noted further investment could be required for facilities and services, but noted local private operators were taking a “wait-and-see” approach rather than ramping up capacity in anticipation.

The scope study noted there was a limited range of accommodation and hospitality options in the district, which could put constraints on visitor experiences.

Conversations with local businesses and people indicated a “wait-and-see” attitude regarding the rocket lab launch activity and whether it would boost the local economy.

“There was a feeling that while anything like this that comes to town and supports the community is good, there were opportunities without Rocket Lab to improve the tourism offering of the district.”

Viewing sites

Wairoa District Council intends to develop viewing sites with parking and toilet facilities as an initial priority, and has proposed a space visitor centre for education and tourism, and a “space coast” cycleway between Wairoa and Mahia.

The report stated regional council economic development staff will remain involved in the project through participation in a proposed steering group and up to $20,000 in funding will be made available to support further market research.

“Further research will ensure any proposals from Wairoa District Council for funding support are based on sound analysis and evidence of demand and financial sustainability.”

The scope report said that central government was focused on regional economic growth, pointing to the 2016 Budget, which announced $94.4 million of new funding over the next four years for regional initiatives to boost economic growth and benefit communities in New Zealand.

Regional council staff believed there were good prospects that rocket tourism would add to the mix of a growing number of tourism product offerings in Northern Hawke’s Bay and should be part of an overall package of work to promote Wairoa as a destination.

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