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Thursday, 25 April 2019 04:06 pm

Political tourism an untapped market say local politicians

PoliticalTourismPress Conference 650px

Wellington mayoral candidates (from left to right) Jo Coughlan, Justin Lester, Nick Leggett and Nicola Young.

Wellington could attract more tourists by marketing itself as the capital city, say mayoral candidates.

Constitutional and political tourism is an untapped market, say Nicola Young, Nick Leggett and Andy Foster.

They and other candidates were asked how to increase international tourism at a press conference with Whitireia Polytechnic journalism students.

Young (right) says the city had a very short political history, but a proud political history.PoliticalTourismNicola Young 150px

“We were the first to give women the vote but there is no mention of Kate Shepherd,” Young says.

“But if it wasn’t for the Beehive you wouldn’t know it was the capital.”

There are companies that specialise in political tours in other countries.

It’s quite niche but it’s a real industry, she says.

“I think we need to be far prouder of our political history and build on it.”

PoliticalTourismIan Leggat 150pxLeggett (left) said that we have lost sight of the fact that Wellington is the capital.

Other international capitals make a lot of the simple fact that they’re the capital, for example Canberra and Washington.

Wellington has to grasp that more and make more of constitutional tourism.

Although it’s not exciting for everybody there are people who are interested in this sort of tourism, he said.

“We have to better embody what it means to be a Kiwi in Wellington,” he said.

Foster agreed with the need to increase political tourism but also emphasised a bigger mix.

He didn’t think New Zealanders are particularly aware that we are the capital.

“We don’t make enough of that and we need to tell our stories better,” he said.

He promotes simple things like telling the story behind heritage buildings and where the names of streets have come from.

He advocated Wellington as a focus for environmental tourism and had worked with Zealandia and Makara Peak since they started.

Other candidates promoted a mix of ideas to increase tourism in the capital.

Justin Lester (right) said the capital had to recognise its weakness in international connectivity.PoliticalTourismJustin Lester 150px

The airport runway extension would improve this issue, he says.

However Wellington’s strengths lie in the movie industry and our amazing natural environment.

We also need to be the capital of quirk, he said.

The diving board outside the Free Ambulance building and the rejuvenation of the laneways were good examples of this.

Jo Coughlan said council had tried hard to promote Wellington internationally.

An article in the Huffington post and a reference in Lonely Planet to Wellington as the coolest little capital in the world show how well the city is doing, she said.

“We’re doing a lot of things really well.”

Helene Ritchie said she didn’t want Wellington to be a tacky tourist town.

She would like the city to be the greenest capital in the world with clean air, zero waste and clean buildings.

“We are the cultural and natural capital of New Zealand and we should expand on that,” Ritchie said.

“We should also celebrate being quirky,” she said.

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