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Adam Hughes (centre) formally welcomed by ECT Chair Michael Muir and Activate Tairawhiti CEO Steve Breen at a whakatau held at the Gisborne iSite.

Activate Appoints General Manager Tourism

15 September 2017

Activate Tairawhiti recruits ‘outstanding’ tourism leader

Tourism in the region can be best described with one word – change.

Locally, the industry has gone through extraordinary change. New investments, new partnerships and new projects are strengthening our regional offering, and giving visitors unprecedented access to our region. And it seems perfectly timed, with MBIE expecting New Zealand’s visitor market to grow by 4.8% per year over the next five years, and 4.9 million visitors expected to spend $15 billion in 2023.

Activate Tairawhiti has taken up the challenge to ensure our region gets its share and has taken the first step – recruiting its new General Manager Tourism – Adam Hughes.

Experience on- and off-shore

Mr Hughes joins the team next week, bringing 20 years’ tourism industry experience in leading tourism businesses both in Rotorua and Australia.

Mr Hughes cut his Tourism teeth at Hell’s Gate and Wai Ora Spa, rising to Operations Manager in an 11-year tenure. He spent several years as i-SITE team manager at Destination Rotorua, before joining Tourism New Zealand as Trade Development Consultant, then Manager of their Australian trade operations. In that time, his work has attracted several awards and accolades. Mr Hughes comes to Tairawhiti Gisborne fresh from RedBalloon, Australia’s pioneering experiential gifting retailer, where he led market re-entry.

It’s a background that Eastland Community Trust CEO, Gavin Murphy says will stand Mr Hughes in great stead.

“Not only is Adam a great strategist and leader, but he's also a top-quality developer of product and knows what it takes to grow tourism businesses. His experience in the digital realm is also incredibly valuable as we see the industry move further in this direction.

“He’s worked his way from the ground up, from Hell’s Gate to representing our national brand overseas. That kind of career path is exactly what we were looking for. Adam is someone who can drive the strategic direction of our tourism industry and engage authentically with our operators to develop and deliver the kinds of experiences our visitors seek.

“We’re thrilled with Mr Hughes appointment and look forward to introducing him to the sector,” he says.

Exploring the region's potential

For Mr Hughes it is a homecoming of sorts, having grown up for a time in Tairawhiti Gisborne – attending Waimata Valley School where his mother taught. He says those formative years engendered a real affinity for the region and its people.

Professionally, Mr Hughes sees the move to Tairawhiti Gisborne as a huge opportunity. He is relishing the prospect to daily, weekly and yearly work to build growth in the region – growth, he believes, will be underpinned by the natural resources, beauty, people and history of this region.

He says the potential of this region is by no means untapped and recognises plenty of people have been working incredibly hard for a long time.

 “The more I talked to the Activate team the more I realised there had been some great work done. I was also struck by the community’s passion and desire to be a more active and relevant player in the tourism space.

“If we’re going to get stuck in, we need the community behind us. I get a sense that’s the case, and that’s empowering,” he says.

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