Tag Archives: tourism

Tourism and niche food – a powerful intersection to build on

After a full day travelling I arrived on the island of Bornholm and cranked into another packed day of meetings all over the island and yet again more productive discussions and outstanding people.  Bornholm and Taupo share a lot of similarities, including population sizes and dominant industries.  Bornholm is the same size as Lake Taupo.

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Destination Bornholm and the Business Center Bornholm

First cab off the rank was tourism with Peter and economic development with Jørn.  Bornholm has encouraged people to purchase vacation homes out of the main centres, perhaps a solution for the Auckland housing “crisis”.  Bornholm is trying to extend stay to shoulder season and leverage off the growing outdoor tourism market.  There’s one main visitor centre open all year round with others only seasonally.  Economically there is a big focus on proactively working with existing businesses and providing a one stop shop.

There were both differences and similarities to NZ and the topic of collaboration surfaced consistently.  How easy is collaboration in tourism compared to other industries?   Do more accommodation or activities grow or hinder industry?  Does necessity drive people together or apart?

Bornholms Middelaldercenter

Next stop was Niller from the medieval centre and a great example of what happens when you mix passion with authenticity.  The centre blends historical and cultural tourism delivered in way where all ages can actively engage.

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Gaarden

Then onto meet Mikkel at a food and culture house.  The food industry here is a outstanding showcase of adding value to primary product having developed from almost nothing 15 years ago to the place to be in Denmark for niche food.  Gaarden is a great intersection of regional food and historical heritage and an example of very collaborative industry in action where activities are as close to producers as possible…aka localism.  Like Oregon, there’s a lot of potential for transfer to NZ, and one that the Food Innovation Network is tapping into but I believe has considerably more scope in rural locations, especially to get away from price-taking commodity trading.  Here’s one bit of the Gaarden store selling local products, not bad for an island 588km²!

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Go Bornholm and East Winds

Finally I spent time with Jonas, a local entrepreneur who simply gets on and does stuff.  In addition to the East Wind activity business he has recently launched Go Bornholm, and online booking plaftorm, I lost count of how many bookings flowed through during our discussion…the digital age is now the norm.  If destinations don’t offer bookings direct from their website, where is the call to action?  It’s like not being able to book a room on a hotels website.

So what?

Whilst tourism is “lower value” as pointed out by Sir Paul Callaghan, it’s still the starting point for many communities rather than simply trying to parachute into something new.  Combining tourism with adding value to primary produce, locations can move up the value chain, and then overlay technology to step up again – it just takes market focus, capital, time, persistence…

Independent, Insignificant and International

Independence Day

Over the weekend it was onwards to the East Coast to mark the halfway point with my sister and her husband in Maryland.  I had a great peek into the star spangled banner that is Independence Day which was full of red, white and blue and more fireworks than I’ve ever seen before.  I was also fortunate to have tour around a Camp/Retreat Centre, which Kiwis would know as a Summer Camp or Camp America.

Washington D.C.

Today is was onwards to Washington D.C, which is a stunning capital city.  There’s so much history here and it is made all the more accessible by the 17 Smithsonian museums being free.  Amazing what that does to enable tourism, the museums and the City were packed.  The Smithsonian museums came about through a gift from James Smithson, who had never been to the United States.  It took the US government of the time 10 years to decide whether to accept the gift and then decide what to do with it and another 9 years before the first building was completed.  New Zealand doesn’t quite make the cut on the world population map unfortunately, shows how insignificant we are.

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International Economic Development Council (IEDC)

I met with the IEDC who provide a large range of services to over 4,500 members worldwide.  They have literally written the ‘how to guide’ on economic development.  As part of my visit I also reciprocated with a presentation of New Zealand, Taupo and my observations/comparisons so far.  Their office is just around the corner from the Whitehouse which was a little surreal.

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Lynn, Scott Tatiana and the team shared some of their key learnings from dealing with organisations all around the world including:

  • taking care of existing business
  • understanding who you are as a location
  • developing a plan with clear priorities
  • how success is often a combination of things, economies work as systems (aka systems thinking)

Insights for smaller locations:

  • connectivity to broadband to enable home based businesses
  • the tension that sometimes arise from some in communities that don’t want growth but want good infrastructure – how do you afford that?
  • relationship between cities and rural areas – should cities subsidise rural areas given they are providing most of the food?
  • creating places where young people want to live

Many of the above have surfaced through other conversations, so some clear themes are emerging.

One thing that puzzles me is that remote working was supposed to be widespread now and it is still predicted to be in the future.  Is that really happening?  If so, cities wouldn’t be growing as fast as they are, so what is holding people back from doing it?

Beautiful Boise, events and the end of week one

The last day of the first week offshore and I’m not sure if it feels like just yesterday I left home or a month ago.

Today was in Boise, Idaho which is a beautiful ‘city of trees’.

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Idaho Commerce

First up was the team from Idaho Commerce for a very productive conversation, given the remoteness of Idaho and the challenges that brings.  The team has a strong focus on supporting job creation.  There are some interesting initiatives including Accelerate Idaho, a reasonably new tax reimbursement incentive and the Idaho rural partnership fund.  Rurally we talked about moving agricultural products higher up the value chain which when combined with tourism can create even more value (e.g. niche food, craft beer and wine).  Education and the war for talent was raised as a big challenge in the future.

Boise City

From there it was on to meet Nic, ‎Director of Economic Development at City of Boise.  Nic gave me a great overview of the layers of government in the US and how they interact.  Some great ideas flowing from Startup in a day, Obama’s government startup and the Mayors Innovation Project.  Nic reinforced the importance of having good data balanced with customer insight.  My favourite project was a Spring Into Code, which introduces kids to computer science at a young age which is what industry is asking for.

Boise Valley Economic Partnership (BVEP)

I met Jana, who had lived in Tokoroa on an exchange as a secondary school student.  BVEP is a regional economic development agency covering a number of counties and the City of Boise.  Jana reinforced the importance of business attraction by proactively prospecting for new business and working with ‘site selectors’, which is a big industry in the US.  They have some very insightful data and geospatial information combined with customer insight to help identify the sweet spot of what Boise Valley can offer.  In other words, understanding the behaviour and perceptions of prospective and current businesses, rather then using assumptions.  Broken record…but skills and workforce development raised again as key for the future.

International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA)

Taupo District has a strong affinity with IFEA, having previously won an IFEA World Festival & Event City Award.  I was hosted by Nia, including a tour of the beautiful Boise Depot.  IFEA have a great range of great education, information, conferences and awards to name a few and as a result I came away with a ‘to do’ list for when I return.  On the new idea front, it will be interesting to see if crowdfunding for events takes off.

So that is week one done and dusted…it’s a weekend away from work, exploring and driving in Oregon and definitely some downtime before another huge week.  Thanks for all the messages, it’s great to hear from you when travelling solo.  The Friday night thing to do in Boise is float down the river in an inflatable with a chillybin onboard…

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