The Coastal Pacific Trail could generate more than $131m for the Marlborough and Kaikoura regions over the next 20 years, according to a new report.
The cycle trail, which would run from Picton to Kaikoura, could be a major asset for the region said the Marlborough District Council-commissioned report from TRC Tourism.
TRC said the trail would cost $8.95m to build over 3-6 years, with approximately $5.76m relating to the Marlborough sections of the trail, and ongoing maintenance was estimated at $150,000 per annum. It could create between 45 and 88 full-time local jobs, the majority in accommodation, food and beverage, retail and recreation services.
The report said the benefits would include an increase in regional income generated by trail users over 20 years of between $67.7m and $131.7m. It assumes no user charges for cycling the trail.
“The trail could deliver a much-needed economic boost to the East Coast of Marlborough, bringing new visitors and job opportunities to our region,” said Marlborough Mayor John Leggett.
“The trail could work alongside our existing tourism attractions – Marlborough’s wineries and our magnificent coastline down to Kaikoura – and provide new opportunities for visitors, such as new rural experiences and local accommodation along the way.”
TRC said it believed around 35,000 people would use the track each year “if the trail is developed to a high standard, with excellent support services, accommodation options and experiences along the way and effective positioning and marketing”.
The consultancy recommended positioning the trail to encompass three ‘hero’ experiences, “the first two of which are already strong in the market – the wineries of the Marlborough and the marine viewing of the coast”.
A third yet-to-be-developed experience could focus on the “communities and people with whom users will connect whilst travelling the journey”.
The report also recommended changing the name of the trail to avoid confusion with the KiwiRail journey of the same name and the trail’s assets should be owned and maintained by Marlborough and Kaikoura district councils.
“There remain many challenges to address before the Trail is up and running, and we are looking at a multi-year programme of work,” said Mayor Leggett. “Funding will need to be found and many physical and infrastructure challenges will need to be overcome. However, these are not insurmountable.”
Marlborough District Council would consider the recommendations in the report at its next Assets and Services meeting on 19 October.