Tourism Central Otago (TCO), the destination marketing and management function of Central Otago District Council, has been named as a finalist in three categories in the 2022 New Zealand Tourism Awards.
TCO’s Destination Development and Marketing Manager, Antz Longman, is a finalist in the Emerging Leader category and TCO General Manager, Dylan Rushbrook, in the Tourism Industry Champion category.
TCO, along with its project partners, is also a finalist in the Industry Collaboration Award for the Otago Cycle Trail Collaboration Initiative.
“To have entered three categories in the NZ Tourism Awards and to be recognised as finalists in all three categories is naturally something we are very proud of as an organisation,” said Mr Longman.
“It highlights how Central Otago has built its reputation as a destination that knows its own identity and has clear strategies in place to support and develop a resilient tourism offering.
“To have a key project like the Otago Cycle Trail Collaboration Initiative celebrated as the benchmark for New Zealand tourism is testament to the importance of partnership and collaboration,” he said.
The Tourism Industry Collaboration Award category recognises groups of two or more that have partnered to maximise the tourism industry impact and results. In the case of the Otago Cycle Trail Collaboration Initiative, there are nine partners made up from four Regional Tourism Organisations, four Trail Trusts, and an Operators Group.
“This is recognition for every part of the region that has made cycle tourism hum; from those creating trail concepts, to world class trail builders, operators along the trails who are passionate about the region and welcoming visitors, and those working tirelessly on extending the network and connecting our Great Rides,” Mr Longman said.
“We are fortunate to have such dedicated people making things happen and I hope they take a moment to reflect on their role in setting the industry benchmark.”
Shayne O’Connor, Trails Manager for the Lake Dunstan Trail, Roxburgh Gorge Trail and Clutha Gold Trail, believes that the New Zealand Tourism Award is affirmation that the project has been a resounding success, showing the value of true collaboration.
“The collaborative approach has been an incredible success, not only in driving demand for our cycle trails from visitors, but also in seeing operators and trails supporting one another,” he said.
“In previous years they may have seen each other as competition, but now everyone is understanding that by working together and sharing knowledge the entire region wins by visitors having an exceptional experience and returning to take on a different trail.”
Central Otago District Council Chief Executive, Sanchia Jacobs said: “Having two individuals from the organisation recognised for their excellence on a national level just shows you don’t need to be working in the urban centres to have an impact. You can absolutely work in a smaller region of New Zealand, have a successful career and get that lifestyle balance we all love about living in Central.
“Antz and Dylan have led a number of key projects for Central Otago. The most significant of those is undoubtedly the development of Central Otago’s Destination Management Plan, which has been celebrated for its commitment to ensuring tourism aligns to community aspirations.”
Both are both quick to deflect credit, acknowledging they are part of a much wider team and community. Mr Rushbrook summed it up, saying: “Without the support of our communities, tourism operators, colleagues and volunteers across the region we simply wouldn’t have a tourism industry to champion. The credit goes to everyone for making Central Otago such a great place to both live, and visit.”
For the full list of finalists: New Zealand Tourism Awards.