It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the 2019 i-SITE Conference, in Taranaki. This is my second i-SITE conference and so much has happened in the last year for us to reflect on; but it’s what lies ahead that is most important.
This year’s conference theme “Challenging our Future” implores us to do exactly that. We have already firmly set our sights on developing a ‘Future Network’ as it’s clear that we need to make changes to fully meet the needs of our visitors and stakeholders alike, and do so in a sustainable way.
We are in the midst of the final year of our current strategic plan so it’s time to chart the course of its successor for the next four years. This conference will take the first step in doing exactly that. Now is the right time to challenge ourselves to ensure we are consistently delivering the best value and making the most of our network strengths. I firmly believe our network is world leading but the world is rapidly changing and we must change with it.
By the end of conference you will have a clearer understanding of the wider context, our challenges and opportunities and some thoughts on how we can adapt to meet these. The year that follows will be one to look into identified options more closely and choose a course to follow. It will be an exciting time, but we do need to take some time to listen to the voices of all of our stakeholders and understand their motivations and desires.
Tourism continues to be New Zealand’s largest single export earner and generates wealth to the New Zealand’s economy but also enriches our country in ways that many Kiwi’s don’t always appreciate. And of course the domestic tourism market still dwarfs the international market and keeps many of you sustained throughout the year.
i-SITEs continue to play a key role in helping improve the visitor experience as well as demonstrating value to our communities. We need to ensure this not only continues but becomes more widely appreciated to ensure we have clarity of purpose and a clear future.
I’m looking forward to you bringing your experience and passion for the network to conference so that we can discuss, debate and set the scene for an eventual decision on a strategy for our future.
Chair, i-SITE New Zealand