A Long Term View Part 2: What the Draft Long-Term Plan Means for PWT
By David Perks
Growing the economy and jobs through raising the city’s presence and attracting businesses to Wellington is one of the Council’s top 5 priorities in the recently released Draft Long-Term Plan. There are three key areas of the plan that affect Positively Wellington Tourism’s direct activities:
1. Australia Marketing Fund
2. Destination Wellington
3. Long Haul
Firstly, a bit of context
Before I share the details of and our position on the proposals relating to the above areas, it’s worth clarifying with readers how we’re funded. Positively Wellington Tourism’s funding from WCC is directly sourced from the Downtown Levy (DTL), a targeted rate on commercial property owners in the central business district. It is therefore of high importance that our activities deliver a return on investment to these ratepayers through increasing commercial activity in the city by attracting more visitors.
1. Australia Marketing Fund: Proposal to reduce funding for the Australia marketing campaign from $1 million per annum, to $800,000 per annum
WHAT THE PLAN SUMMARY SAYS:
“We propose to continue contributing to this marketing campaign, but at a reduced level than the $1 million we have provided annually in the last three years. Visitor numbers from Australia have grown in recent years on the back of this successful marketing campaign.”
HOW MUCH AND WHEN: $2.4 million in total over the next three years.
WHO WILL PAY: Downtown Levy Ratepayers– 100%
The work PWT has carried out in Australia as a result of the investment by Council and the DTL ratepayer over the last two years has been the most significant driver behind Wellington’s continued tourism success in a tough climate. Since funding of $1m per year commenced it has made a significant return to the city through visitor arrivals, spend and increased trans-Tasman flight connectivity. The below graph charts direct Australia arrivals into Wellington growth since the launch of the There’s No Place Like Wellington campaign in March 2010. As you’ll see, despite ash clouds, earthquakes and a challenged economic climate, we have seen consistent and often significant growth.
In each full year the investment has been in place PWT has carried out almost $3 million of activity through leveraging the Council’s funding to create partnerships with city, regional and national agencies and businesses. For example, our partnership with our national carrier enables exciting opportunities such as the Air New Zealand restaurant Safety giveaway at our WLG pop up restaurant in Melbourne (a PR initiative that reached a cumulative audience in excess of 9 million in Australia). This in turn launched a 24-hour sale offering $100 off return flights to Wellington for travel from February to June 2012.
While we’re delighted the Council sees value in continuing the Australia marketing initiative over the coming years, our submission is that reducing this investment by $200,000 per annum will handicap its success. The multi-partnership approach sees the Council’s investment amplified and the exceptionally positive results are well documented. Reducing funding will reduce our ability to raise matched partner funds, in turn of course reducing the result.
For more on our Australia campaign results, watch the below video report on the development and results achieved in year 1. Things have significantly developed further since this first year of campaign, but this shows the journey Wellington is on when it comes to its profile and driving visitors across the Tasman.
2. Destination Wellington: Funding a programme to attract investment and new business to Wellington
WHAT THE PLAN SUMMARY SAYS:
“We want to create jobs and support economic growth in the city. Destination Wellington is a programme of business investment and attraction activities that will be undertaken in partnership with Grow Wellington, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, the new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce, Kea (international business network) and other key stakeholders. Its purpose will be to attract increased levels of investment, talent and new business to the Central Business District and wider Wellington City area. We are planning to deliver this programme through a specialist delivery agency rather than in-house. This addresses a gap in service provision identified in the Council’s Economic Development Strategy and in the review of the Wellington Regional Strategy. It will ensure the ongoing competitiveness of the city in an increasingly competitive global market for investment and talent.
HOW MUCH AND WHEN: $1 million in 2012/13 and $1.9 million a year from 2013/14 onwards
WHO WILL PAY: Commercial Ratepayers – 50%; Downtown Levy Ratepayers – 50%
We applaud the move to use the destination platform that Council has built through its investment in PWT since the mid 1990s in a broadening of the concept of ‘Destination Wellington’. Tourism marketing provides a shop window of Wellington, but there has to date been a gap in leveraging of that platform further through funding activity to increase external investment that will bring business investment, business travellers, education visitors, and of course a subsidiary effect of this will be more leisure visitors.
The vision is for this work to be carried out in a sector-targeted manner such that the impact on the city is significant and relevant to the city’s strengths and story. This activity is greatly needed and will benefit not only the business and educations sectors, but also tourism. We are also excited by what this project will mean for a shared and consistent brand for Wellington across business, investment, education and visitor sectors.
3. Long Haul Attraction: Withdrawal of the $200,000 annual investment
WHAT THE PLAN SUMMARY SAYS:
“We plan to continue supporting the attraction of a long-haul air carrier to Wellington. The creation of a long haul attraction fund is in the early stages of development and this work will inform the 2013/14 Annual Plan. In the event that an opportunity arose before then the Council would give it consideration. In the meantime, we plan to stop our current contribution of $200,000 to Positively Wellington Tourism that had been directed towards this.”
The Plan withdraws the current $200,000 annual investment in Long Haul Attraction activity. We believe this flies in the face of the introduction of the above Destination Wellington concept. The $200,000 funds our work with Wellington International Airport in engaging with potential long haul flight providers, including the preparation and presentation of detailed business case analysis. Stopping this fund will remove the ability to do this work. Progress made to date will be reverted, and the incentive fund proposed by Council in the future to get an airline across the line (a necessary requirement in today’s market) will – in our opinion – have very little likelihood of having the opportunity to be utilised.
This activity has to date been paid for by the General rate. Our proposal to Councillors is that this activity would more appropriately be paid for by the Downtown Levy, as per our other activity.
:: How to Make Your Submission to the Wellington City Council’s Draft Long-Term Plan:
The draft long-term plan, a summary of the plan and submission forms are available from Wellington City Council’s website. To make an online submission, see: Public Input – Draft Long Term Plan 2012/22, the Wellington City Council Facebook page, or you can also email submissions to email@example.com.
Submissions close 5.00pm, Friday 18 May.