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Reigniting Regional Tourism

Reigniting Regional Tourism

Conference Dates August 27, 2020 – 9:00 am – 10:30 am

With the arrival of COVID-19 and the abrupt termination of international visitors, tourism regions in Australia & New Zealand – as in Iceland – have suffered dramatic hits. This webinar shares experiences in rebuilding regional tourism, and in diversifying revenues beyond international visitor spending.

The webinar will feature Iceland’s Tourism Cluster, with contributions from Australia (Cairns & Barossa) and New Zealand (Queenstown & Nelson).  A leading economist, Shamubeel Eaqub, will provide an overview.

Contributors will briefly review the scale of COVID-19’s impact on their region, and then focus on their region’s immediate and longer-term responses to the crisis.


Contributor: Ásta Kristín Sigurjónsdóttir, CEO, Iceland Tourism Cluster, Reykjavik

As Iceland feels more confident that it has conquered COVID-19, the focus is turning to economic recovery, and most immediately, the international tourism sector, which a decade ago helped Iceland rapidly bounce back from the global financial crisis.

Iceland’s Tourism Cluster is a business-driven organization.  Members are across the value chain of tourism and travel, with an emphasis on competitiveness and value creation.

The main projects for the past five years involve innovation and value creation, sustainable and responsible tourism together with higher education and quality. In recent months, the cluster, under the umbrella of Restarting Tourism, has been addressing new ways to strengthen the rethinking and redesign of business models, using innovation and sustainable actions to drive a better new normal.

Asta’s career has centred on business development and innovation, including as a business advisor at a national bank and with the Development Centre of East Iceland. Asta is also a Director of the TCI Network, the leading global network of people and organizations working in clusters and innovation ecosystems.

Shamubeel Eaqub, Auckland, New Zealand

Shamubeel has a well established reputation for making economics easy. As an author, a media commentator and a thought leading public speaker, Shamubeel provides economic consultancy on a wide range of business and policy topics.

He has over a decade of experience as an economist in New Zealand and Australia, with leading international banks and in economic consultancy. Shamubeel is on the boards of various charities and commercial firms. He writes on issues that matter to New Zealand and gives voice to the unheard.

Contributor: Mark Olsen, CEO, Tourism Tropical North Queensland

Prior to COVID-19, tourism supported one in five regional jobs, with international travellers accounting for 30% of visitor expenditures.

Mark has 25 years of experience in the tourism and hospitality industry.

From washing dishes to national and international strategy development, Mark has worked in over 70 countries with a focus on sustainable tourism, experience development, destination strategy including aviation and air route access, commercial operations and feasibility and consumer marketing.

Contributor: Anne Maroney, CEO, Barossa Regional Development Agency

Barossa is positioning itself as Australia’s global wine and food region, with tourism as an essential component in that strategy. COVID-19 responses will have a substantial impact on this positioning.

With the strongly performing wine sector as the region’s economic base, tourism is important in value adding and building brand salience and consumer connection. Tourism provides valuable jobs that are not at high risk of automation, and brings customers to many of the Barossa’s SMEs.

Anne is committed to cluster development and continues to work with wine, tourism, local government and education to further develop specialisations, higher level jobs and income growth.

Anne has qualifications in law, governance, mediation; economic development, international business and strategy…all of which are at play in the work of regional development.

Contributor: Peter Harris, Economic Development Manager, Queenstown Lakes District Council

Pre COVID-19, Queenstown was the least diversified of any region in New Zealand, with 6 out of 10 jobs being in tourism, and 6 out of 10 visitors coming from overseas. Tourism and population growth meant jobs were plentiful, but housing was expensive and there was growing community disquiet about the impact of tourism.

Peter worked on diversification initiatives pre-COVID including establishing a start-up support trust, exploring the potential to grow the remote worker community and visitor-tech.  However, budgets remained tiny compared to tourism marketing investment.

The dangers of being reliant on one industry struck home in March 2020. The district is now grappling with how to help tourism survive, and accelerate diversification to build economic resilience for the future.

Earlier, Peter was leader of the Dunedin City Council Economic Development Unit.

Contributor: Mark Rawson, Chief ExecutiveNelson Regional Development Agency

Pre COVID-19, tourism accounted for 10% of regional employment; international tourism was 40% of expenditures, and Nelson had New Zealand’s busiest regional airport.

Mark holds qualifications in business and economic development. He provides a blend of public and private sector experience as a result of his diverse background in senior executive positions at a ‘hands on’ operational, senior management, and governance level.

Mark has held roles in local and regional economic development, regional destination marketing and management, local government economic and regulatory service delivery, events and venues management and marketing and inner city revitalisation.

Prior to taking on this role, Mark was CEO at Destination Rotorua. Mark also serves as Deputy Chair, Economic Development New Zealand.

Moderator:  Ifor Ffowcs-Williams, CEO, Cluster Navigators Ltd, New Zealand

Ifor is acknowledged as one of the most influential cluster practitioners in the world, with experience extending to over 50 countries.

Ifor is a Founder, Past President and Member of the Board of Advisors of TCI Network, the global network for cluster practitioners.  Ifor has been an advisor to The World Bank, EU, OECD, UNDP, international aid agencies and national & regional economic development agencies on six continents.

Prior to establishing Cluster Navigators Ltd in 1997, Ifor was with New Zealand’s national export agency, encouraging businesses to cooperate-to-compete through networking and clustering.


Registration is free of charge.

Conference website

Read original article at Travel Tourism Dot News

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