Auckland concierges given grand tour through FlyStark 13 December 2016 Auckland’s top concierges are renowned as the most sophisticated purveyors of lifestyle services – and FlyStark are hosted six of them and their partners yesterday to showcase our Coromandel in style. Flown by Whitianga-based airline FlyStark, concierges from Stamford Plaza, Sky City Grand, Auckland’s Grand Millennium and Auckland Heritage hotels and their partners took the half hour flight from Ardmore to Whitanga to experience what Mercury Bay can offer in a day. “The FlyStark people love getting out of bed each day to show off beautiful New Zealand and our goal is to drive tourism from Auckland to the Coromandel,” says FlyStark Chief Executive Ray Stark. FlyStark already has a package called Luxury Coromandel Escapes which is targeted at Auckland guests staying in top international hotels. "We give them a scenic flight to the Coromandel and the guest chooses between our signature product of the Coromandel must-do's by air and other top attractions," says Mr Stark. The tour was organised by FlyStark Sales Manager Rowena Brown after attending a Les Clefs d’Or (Gold members-only concierge Club) function for businesses to showcase themselves to Auckland’s top concierges. “We decided to turn it on for them, complimentarily, with support from local Mercury Bay businesses." The network that is Les Clefs d’Or ensures that a guest interacting with a Concierge wearing the crossed golden keys can be assured of service with the utmost professionalism and integrity at all times. Rowena says these values are expected by guests when flying to the Coromandel and the company is aligned with operators that similarly deliver on this. "If we are working together as a team we are going to accomplish more. We are bigger, better, stronger together and deliver the experience seamlessly, to the higher end of the market." The day started at the French Fig café in Whitianga with Mercury Bay Councillors Murray McLean and Tony Fox sharing their experiences of what the area offers to visitors. The tour included Mercury Bay Estate, Cathedral Cove Scenic Cruises, The Lost Spring and a dinner at Salt restaurant. The Coghill Cottage and Sovereign Pier providing accommodation with the group returning on a FlyStark’s air bus to Auckland the following day. Mayor Sandra Goudie wrote a personalised letter to each of the concierges welcoming them to the Coromandel and encouraging them to bring their guests down. Click here to link to the FlyStark website for more information. What are our goals for visitor numbers on the Coromandel? Our Council is supportive of innovation and partnerships which we see as the key to building a vibrant district economy. We have an Economic Development Action Plan that was developed to facilitate economic growth by capitalising on our district’s existing strengths and opportunities. The six major economic targets we have set are: An average annual increase in real exports of greater than 5% (includes tourism) so that the ratio of exports to GDP is 40% by 2025 An average real GDP increase of greater than 2.5% by the end of 2018 A permanent population increase of 2500 by the end of 2018 (as measured in the next national census) An increase in rateable units of greater than 2.5% by the end of 2018 A 5%+ annual increase in visitor guest nights Increase in employment on the Coromandel by 5% by the end of 2018 The Booking Office open for business in Coromandel Town A new tourism venture that puts the Coromandel on the map by sharing visitors with other top operators further afield officially launched in Coromandel Town. The Booking Office is a venture by Sarni Hart and Willie Lochore, owners of the successful tour company Coromandel Adventures. The couple started their tour and transport company after identifying a gap in connectivity around the Coromandel, especially for those without vehicles who want to experience the area’s walks, beaches and bush. Now in their sixth season, Coromandel Adventures will open a new office in Coromandel Town and has become a leader in the local tourism industry. They are expanding out to the Central North Island with the launch of The Booking Office; developing itineraries that both draw visitors to the Coromandel and later connect them seamlessly to the best of activities across the Central North Island. “We are totally thrilled with the level of response we have had from leading operators throughout the Central North Island,” says Sarni. “The number of people who attended the opening representing businesses from Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Waikato and of course the 360 Discovery Ferry from Auckland, just shows how important this could be for The Coromandel.” She says sharing the visitor experience throughout the region – known as regional dispersal - is an essential development to managing growth in tourism, and to reaching the Tourism 2025 industry goals. “Our observation is that aside from the flood of visitors over the summer season The Coromandel is missing out on visitor flow over the shoulder and winter seasons. We believe the case for visiting our area strengthens if we can share the visitor activity that continues throughout the year in the more central parts of the North Island.” As Willie said: “This ties in perfectly with the strategy behind The Booking Office, which will represent the best of the activity operators throughout Coromandel and the Central North Island and work to assist our visitors so they can enjoy seamless itineraries throughout the wider region.” “This is specifically different to the necessary approach of the i-Sites and Information Centres who are required by their charter to treat all membership even-handedly. We intend to use the marketing power of the more recognised Central North Island Tourism pathways and operators to help The Coromandel gain a stronger off-season foothold.” Prior to starting Coromandel Adventures, the couple owned a native tree nursery. Sarni is a trustee of the Coromandel Kauri Dieback Forum and both she and Willie have a longstanding passion for native trees and the forest ecology. Coromandel Adventures was awarded a Qualmark Gold Enviro award for the work that the company does with Kauri dieback and is the only tourism company in the Coromandel region to have achieved this. Sarni says they are also thrilled at the recent Product Development award from Destination Coromandel , and the 2016 Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor. “Local recognition and visitor satisfaction will always be an important measure of the team’s success,” said the couple.