‘100%’ Marlborough ‘welcoming face’ stays open as other i-Sites close shop
Swedish backpackers get advice on the South Island driving route at the Blenheim i-Site.
The Blenheim and Picton i-Sites remain ‘100%’ open as other tourist information centers across the country have extended closures or entered ‘hibernation’ after Covid shut off the tap for tourists.
The area’s i-Sites are run by Destination Marlborough, and chief executive Jacqui Lloyd said not only will they remain open, but she plans to increase staff at both ahead of what is expected to be a prosperous summer for local tour operators.
This comes as the Kaikōura i-Site goes into “hibernation” later this month, and the Nelson i-Site takes a two-year “hiatus” to review the provision of tourist information in the area.
“We want the region to know, the tourism industry to know and locals to know that our i-Sites remain, and we are 100% committed to them. We definitely want to make sure people know i-Sites are here to stay,” Lloyd said.
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“We have been committed over the last two and a half years, during border closures and with Covid, to ensure that we keep the centers viable and operational seven days a week.
Lloyd said i-Sites offer much more than directions and trinkets for passing tourists.
“We find them to be incredibly useful, not only in helping visitors find the information they need while in the area, but also in reserving products for our operators, which is really important, and also for emergency management in the event of a problem, people know that they can go to a reception centre, whether local or international.
“It’s the welcoming place for your region and that’s where we see the importance of i-Sites for Marlborough, because when visitors come in they get information from locals who share our region and are the welcoming face of the region and that’s really important,” said Lloyd.
Lloyd said the region can expect an increase in visitor numbers in the coming months as around 40 cruise ships are expected to dock in Picton this summer with the sea borders reopening on July 31.
“In the next couple of days we’re actually going to be ramping up…sea borders will have been opened up so cruise ships can come back, all expeditions can actually come back to New Zealand, including people on super yachts . and all those types of things.
Lloyd said that while the expected influx of overseas tourists was promising for the region and tourism operators, she warned that numbers were not yet likely to come close to pre-Covid levels.
“It’s positive, I think, for our operators who have had a very difficult few years, to know that there is an opportunity in the summer to have more visits and sales, and to take people to discover their products. and their parts of the Marlborough area are really great.
“They just need to get through the next two months where the winter is calmer, but there’s a lot of positivity in knowing that we’re going to have some kind of summer season,” Lloyd said.
“We believe around 40 cruise ships will arrive between November and April. Probably about 28 of those 40 will be 2000 passengers and under, and in fact the majority of that number will be 400-600 passengers, so the smaller boutique ships.
“Then we will have some of the greatest Ovation of the Seas and such that we have also had for many years.
“We are just awaiting final confirmation, but at this stage it seems likely that we will still have a good cruising season.”
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