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Research to help regions plan for tourism growth

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Lincoln University is making a major investment to support and grow our understanding of tourism.

A new Lincoln University Centre of Excellence, called ‘Sustainable Tourism for Regions, Communities and Landscapes’, has been created to tackle the dual challenge of growing the value of tourism and enriching the tourist experience in Aotearoa New Zealand, while restoring, protecting and enhancing the quality of regional destinations.

The multi-disciplinary centre is drawing on the expertise of researchers from across the university in such diverse areas as destination management, landscape design, policy and planning, marketing, rural regeneration, parks and protected areas, resource economics and community resilience.

The centre is also designed to provide Lincoln students with unique ways of learning as they are exposed to the activities aimed at tackling tourism challenges.

The researchers will partner with government, communities, industry groups, iwi and Crown Research Institutes, to deliver solutions in this area.

The Head of the new Centre of Excellence, Dr Mike Mackay, says that as more visitors arrive on our shores, and the tourism sector grows and diversifies, destination marketing and effective strategic tourism planning need to go hand in hand, especially in regional areas.

"It's important to keep an eye on the impacts of increasing visitor numbers and to advance ideas about how best to support the growth of ‘good’ regional tourism. This is easier said than done.

"Some regions are already benefiting greatly from new tourism innovations, such as cycle trails, geoparks, farm and agri-tourism, adventure activities, festivals and events, and new wine and food tourism initiatives, while others are working hard to realise the full potential of tourism."

He says there are "wonderful areas on the doorstep of Lincoln University, including the Selwyn, Mackenzie, Waitaki and Hurunui Districts, and Banks Peninsula, which researchers and students can use as living laboratories."

According to Lincoln University Tourism Professor David Simmons, it is important to shift current emphasis from marketing to planning.

"We do well at promoting the country, but strategic planning is needed so we can meet the needs of visitors who are arriving, support the communities that host them and ultimately extract the best value for New Zealand."

Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA), the national voice of the tourism industry, welcomes the centre.

"This research will focus on the pressing needs of the sector and we look forward to continuing our work with Lincoln academics," says TIA CEO Chris Roberts.

The sustainable tourism initiative is part of a new suite of Centres of Excellence that Lincoln University will develop over the next three years to address grand challenges in agriculture, food, conservation, environment, recreation and Mātauranga Māori.

In addition to ‘Sustainable Tourism for Regions, Communities and Landscapes’, two other centres from the new suite are: ‘Designing Future Productive Landscapes’ (which investigates alternative approaches to land-use systems) and ‘Food for Future Consumers’ (which looks at moving from production-driven to consumer-driven agriculture).

Each centre focuses on issues of strategic importance to Aotearoa New Zealand and responds to a need for greater innovation, productivity, resilience and sustainability.

Lincoln University’s research expertise in a wide range of land-based disciplines means it is uniquely positioned to add value in these areas.

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