Raglan will go into decline as a tourist destination if massive wind turbines are constructed at Te Uku, according to a survey conducted on behalf of opponents of Wel Networks’ proposed wind farm.
Sometime this week Rodger Gallagher, the Raglan-based managing director of market research company Customer Value Management New Zealand, will present evidence at the reconvened Wel Networks wind farm hearing that the project will have a severe negative impact on tourism in and around Raglan.
In his evidence, Mr Gallagher savages data previously submitted on behalf of Wel Networks by tourism consultant Gordon Campbell, which last year concluded tourism-related businesses would not be affected by the wind farm and the town could see an 11 per cent increase in visitor numbers.
By contrast, Mr Gallagher’s research underpinned by interviews with 85 tourists, selected at random on Raglan streets in January and February suggests visitor numbers would plunge from the current upward trend into decline, with most accommodation providers, tourism activities or attractions hit by the wind farm.
Customer Value Management NZ Ltd carried out its independent survey of Raglan visitors for the Tui G group which is opposing the project.
The company found Raglan would go from a position of having “net word-of-mouth” of 75 per cent positive feedback from visitors to having a net word-of-mouth of 84 per cent negative.
“In other words visitors would tell their friends to stay away. Raglan would change from a popular destination to become an Adelaide (negative 55 per cent) in the eyes of tourists.”
Mr Gallagher also questions Campbell Consulting’s conclusion that tourism businesses such as the Hidden Valley Retreat would enjoy an increase in business.
“The type of guest attracted by Hidden Valley Retreat’s value proposition is unlikely to be attracted by the visual allure of a wind turbine and the noise it produces.
“In fact the reverse is probably the case. Who would want to stay a night in Te Uku so they could view wind turbines the next day? It is more likely that Hidden Valley Luxury Retreat’s ability to deliver on its value proposition would be compromised and guest numbers would decline.”
The retreat might however experience a short-term demand from construction workers while the turbines are being built.
The Resource Management Act hearing resumes in Ngaruawahia tomorrow.
By Bruce Holloway
18 February 2008
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