Hawke’s Bay’s fight for food tourism gets Government funding boost

Dan Hopkins of Carrs Kitchen cooking toasted sandwiches for the ‘Toasted’ competition, part of food event FAWC. Photo / File

Hawke’s Bay Tourism is investing in the creation of a seasonal calendar of food-focused events to strengthen the region’s positioning as New Zealand’s leading food and wine destination.

Hawke’s Bay has been allocated $600,000 across five years from the Government’s $50 million Regional Events Fund, announced on Wednesday by Tourism Minister Stuart Nash.

Chief Executive Hamish Saxton said the funding will also go towards expanding Central Hawke’s Bay’s Spring Fling Festival, as well as investigating the feasibility for an event that makes the most of the region’s spectacular countryside.

“We are also looking to build in Māori programming that will appeal to New Zealanders and attract domestic visitors from outside the region,” Saxton said.

Saxton said the allocation is directly representative of the percentage of Hawke’s Bay’s tourism economy that came from international visitors – $25 million of the $691 million total contribution to Hawke’s Bay’s visitor economy.

Duck Day is always a highlight of Central Hawke's Bay's annual Spring Fling Festival. Photo / File
Duck Day is always a highlight of Central Hawke’s Bay’s annual Spring Fling Festival. Photo / File

He said Hawke’s Bay Tourism was grateful to the Minister and the Government for recognising the ongoing need of the region’s tourism and events industries.

Saxton said it was working with a two- to four-year vision in mind to invest in bolstering Hawke’s Bay’s reputation for food and wine:

“Investing in food-focused events will strengthen this unique selling point and bring visitors to the entire region for longer periods.

“Hawke’s Bay already does events so very well, but the purpose of this fund and subsequent spending will be to create a legacy that serves the region’s visitor economy for years to come.”

Nash said recent research by Tourism NZ highlighted that a regional event, such as a festival, concert, exhibition, sports fixture, or food and beverage experience, is a major drawcard for Kiwis planning a domestic holiday.

“Foodies might find themselves flocking to Hawke’s Bay as the region aims to develop a seasonal calendar for food-focused events,” he said.