A new initiative to develop Hamilton tourism ‘ambassadors’ has been launched with the ultimate aim of enhancing the experience of visitors to the Waikato region.
The training programme is designed to upskill frontline staff from Hamilton tourism businesses, hospitality and accommodation providers, transport operators, retailers and volunteers to help expand their local knowledge by providing simple tools to create positive and memorable experiences for leisure and business travellers to the city.
The ‘Kirikiriroa / Hamilton Ambassador Programme’ is a joint collaboration between Hamilton & Waikato Tourism and the Hamilton Central Business Association, with support from Hamilton City Council.
Hamilton & Waikato Tourism Chief Executive, Jason Dawson, says the programme will give frontline staff who interact with visitors every day some useful information about Kirikiriroa / Hamilton and the wider Waikato region.
“Tourism is now one of Waikato’s most important sectors, injecting over $1.56 billion annually into the regional economy. Domestic spend contributes $1.196 billion, with international visitors adding an estimated $362M into the regional economy” he says.
“The region is now the fifth-largest in New Zealand for international visitor expenditure, fourth for domestic spend, and the fourth-largest (behind Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch) for conventions, meetings and business events” said Dawson.
"Participants in this ambassador programme will learn more about Kirikiriroa / Hamilton, becoming storytellers and advocates for the region, and enhance the ‘manaakitanga’ that visitors experience when they travel here" he added.
Participants will take part in a three-hour workshop which delves into the history and unique stories of the Mighty Waikato region and Kirikiriroa / Hamilton, including local Māori history and legends, the experience of early settlers and how the local economy has evolved to present day.
They will also receive tips on how to better connect with visitors from key international markets, ensuring they are left with a positive and lasting impression of Hamilton and the Waikato.
Hamilton Central Business Association General Manager, Vanessa Williams, said the workshop explores alternative techniques which incur minimal cost to retail, hospitality and tourism businesses in Hamilton, but add immeasurable value to the visitor experience.
"Every day, we engage with visitors from around the world and I feel passionate about making sure each visitor leaves with a lasting and positive impression of Hamilton based on our local legends, inspiring people and magical places that are only known to locals” says Vanessa.
"Being an ambassador for our great region is a privilege. The programme helps you find common ground with people from other countries and cultural beliefs. For example, if you’re hosting visitors from India, just mention cricket and one of the best boutique cricket grounds in the world at Seddon Park and they will be impressed" she says.
“We already have a number of businesses who are signing up to the ‘Kirikiriroa / Hamilton Ambassador Programme’ by enrolling their staff for training and we want to make sure that this momentum continues” added Williams.
The bespoke course has been developed by Queenstown Resort College which has successfully rolled out variants of the programme in six locations around New Zealand, including Auckland, Queenstown, Wanaka and Northland.
The programme is open to everyone for a small fee of $30 + GST per person. Visit www.nzambassador.com booking details and information on Hamilton courses.