Businesses are getting behind Whakatane District Council's project to strengthen the district's link with White Island.
The ‘Gateway to White Island/Whakaari' project is part of an economic strategy to encourage visitors to stay longer in the Whakatane District.
An increasing number of international media are visiting the island and Tourism New Zealand recently named it as one of the top 10 things to do in the country.
However, many international tourists only visit for one day, taking a tour to White Island/Whakaari and then returning to another city or town.
The Whakatane District Council believes a greater connection between the town and White Island/Whakaari will help showcase more of what Whakatane has to offer, resulting in visitors staying longer.
Whakatane District Council Business Services Manager Roslyn Barlow says White Island offers a point of difference no other region in New Zealand can match.
“We can leverage off this to attract more international and domestic travellers and maximise the awareness of Whakaari once they're here.
“We're encouraging local businesses to create products and services that have a connection with White Island. For example, you could create a special ‘volcano' dish on a menu or create a quirky t-shirt design. It's about developing a connection and engaging with customers,” she says.
Businesses are already getting behind the initiative, with Mata Beer having developed a new pale ale ‘+64' which features White Island on its label.
A feasibility study for a land-based White Island/Whakaari centre is underway which will allow visitors to learn about the Island's history and to get a sense of the White Island experience if they can't make the trip by sea or air.
Other initiatives to visually improve the link to White Island/Whakaari include new billboards erected on the main roads leading into Whakatane, large-scale photographic panels wrapping the exterior of the Whakatane i-SITE and a new volcano-styled slide at the recently-upgraded Wairaka Centennial Park playground.
Those wishing to share their ideas or gain more information about the project can contact Whakatane District Council Events and Tourism Advisor Nicola Burgess on 07 306 0500 or email Nicola.email@example.com.