Imagine Grahamstown humming with people dining and shopping, with bikers cruising to and from Hauraki and Kauaeranga cycle trails. Open to visitors passing through or compelled to stay a while, and nearby heritage attractions busy delivering quality tours. A thriving high street Grahamstown experience can redefine visitor perceptions of Thames and help lift the economic performance of the region.
Support for Grahamstown is not a new idea, it has been around for decades.
Destination Hauraki Coromandel (DHC) is presenting Grahamstown Visitor Precinct as the leading tourism initiative for Thames as part of the Hauraki Coromandel Destination Management Plan (DMP).
DMPs have been developed for every region in the country. DHC included the views from communities with respect to their local towns, as well as the region. Feedback from Thames included priorities for town enhancement and the highlighting of its unique cultural heritage and character.
Grahamstown Visitor Precinct has the potential to be a game-changer for Thames and contribute to a richer visitor experience of Hauraki Coromandel.
What is the Grahamstown Visitor Precinct?
A boutique high street retail zone centred on Pollen St, between Cochrane and Pahau Streets.
Retaining and attracting specialty stores that enhance the visitor experience will bring additional energy and atmosphere, uplifting town appeal and overall demand from visitors. A plan to protect and preserve character buildings and amplification of heritage features will set the stage.
Where to from here?
If Thames is to achieve its potential as a genuine and unique visitor destination then this is a long term commitment that should be staged, beginning with tangible steps, such as:
- Developing a schedule (of works)
- Establishing a community Trust & working group
- Tenancy Prospectus to attract and support targeted occupancy
- Funding applications
- Painting building facades
- Civic design plan incorporating heritage street lights, heritage street signs etc. to accentuate the unique character and focal destination precinct
Taking learnings from previous plans, strategies and investments, now is the opportune time to come together to focus and deliver on the desire for the town of Thames to be a destination in its own right. Grahamstown has the unique potential to enhance visitors' perceptions of Thames and to promote the experience to be had by word of mouth alone.
Where perception becomes reality
Thames represents a crucial piece of the puzzle for the Hauraki Coromandel region. Our region is largely perceived as a summer beach holiday destination, which is a very limited view of all it has to offer.
Should Grahamstown become a thriving boutique retail precinct, with local creatives, cafes, bespoke shopping and bike paths, this will not only transform the town but also positively impact the region.
Offering a year-round, land based visitor experience that compels our large returning visitor base to stop in town, while also attracting visitors from the nearby drive regions (Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty) will help lift economic performance, particularly in the shoulder and off seasons.
Retail purchases make up by far the biggest spend category for Hauraki Coromandel and greater still for Thames, followed by food & beverage. If Hauraki Coromandel could boost its average visitor transaction value to equal the New Zealand average this would add $70 million to the Hauraki Coromandel economy each year (Source data: Market View). Retail spend is a likely category to achieve this.