27 August 2015: Waikato tourism leaders recognised

27 August 2015: Waikato’s growing reputation for quality tourism has been recognised in the New Zealand Tourism Industry Awards.

One sector leader and two of the region’s key visitor attractions have been named finalists in the awards which celebrate and benchmark excellence in New Zealand’s tourism industry.

Hamilton & Waikato Tourism (HWT) chief executive Kiri Goulter is one of three finalists in the Tourism Champion award which recognises those who have made a sustained and measurable contribution to the New Zealand tourism industry.

Goulter led major initiatives in Northland to develop the capability and performance of the tourism industry followed by a development role with Tourism New Zealand. She moved from Wellington to the Waikato in 2009 to re-­‐establish a regional tourism organisation. HWT was formed in 2011 and now champions a rapidly growing local tourism sector generating more than $1 billion of visitor expenditure annually.

Goulter is one of a handful of award finalists working in the public sector. Other finalists in her category are Jeroen Jongejans (Dive! Tutukaka) and Bruce Thomasen (Skyline Enterprises, Rotorua).

Goulter said she was honoured to be named a finalist and was lucky to work in an industry she was genuinely passionate about.

“My career in tourism has provided with with some amazing, ground-­‐breaking opportunities and I’ve been privileged to work with many talented and forward thinking people,” she said.

Two Waikato attractions, Hobbiton Movie Set Tours and Discover Waitomo, along with Te Puia have been named finalists in the Industry Alignment award for their Middle Earth Trilogy partnership product. They are up against Napier’s Art Deco Trust and the Bay of Islands Destination Marketing Group.

Goulter said she was particularly pleased Hobbiton Movie Set and Discover Waitomo had also been recognised

“Our region has seen significant growth in international visitor expenditure over the last few years and both attractions have played a key role in that. We absolutely support this kind of collaboration because it is very positive for the operators, as well as for the wider region which benefits economically.”

The awards will be judged by an independent panel of judges made up of tourism industry and other business leaders. Winners will be announced on Friday, October 2.

For further information call:
Kiri Goulter, Hamilton & Waikato Tourism chief executive, 021 686 057