04 Dec 2006
Wellington is rapidly gaining attention as an international visitor destination, with the latest Lonely Planet Bluelist 2007 dubbing it a ‘City on the Rise’.
Lonely Planet Bluelist: The Best in Travel 2007 is an annual book which reveals the best destinations, journeys, experiences and travel trends for the year ahead, as selected by Lonely Planet staff, authors and travellers.
The Cities on the Rise category is for cities that are emerging as hot destinations for international travellers. Wellington is the only New Zealand city to feature in the category, keeping company with the likes of Belfast in Northern Ireland, Belgrade in Serbia and Perth in Australia.
The city’s weather gets a passing mention, but the emphasis is on its arts, culture, music and restaurant scene. “One of the world’s cold-yet-cultural cities, New Zealand’s capital is gaining in reputation as a place to be in the southern hemisphere.”
Wellington is described as a place where “….youthful energy abounds - hip-hop dance-offs, plenty of live music and cafes, fashionable bars and bookshops. More beautiful than Seattle or Melbourne, the starry night is clearly young here.”
Lonely Planet travel authors tend to have a ‘mystery shopper’ style of assessment – their impartiality therefore makes them the most utilised travel guidebook for international travel. Research conducted by Victoria University of Wellington in 2005 showed that over 35% of international travellers’ information searches on accommodation and activities are reliant on travel guidebooks such as the Lonely Planet.
“To be considered a ‘City on the Rise’ by such a prestigious travel publication is a real coup,” says Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast. “Wellingtonians know that this is one of the world’s best little cities, but it’s great to see the word is spreading.”
Wellington’s emerging status is also highlighted in a double-page spread devoted to New Zealand booking in Lonely Planet Bluelist 2007. The winter nationwide festival of Matariki is profiled as ‘Hot for 2007’, a festival that Wellington supports with a rich programme of events at Te Papa and the Carter Observatory.
“Recognition of this nature in Lonely Planet is significant for Wellington’s tourism industry,” says Positively Wellington Tourism CEO Tim Cossar. “Ten years ago, the city was not on the map as an international travel destination. It was seen as grey and windy, a place to pass through between the North and South Islands.”
“The last decade has seen a complete turnaround, with Wellington becoming a visitor destination in its own right. The city has transformed itself into a buzzing, creative metropolis that visitors can’t get enough of. It boasts the bold and innovative national museum Te Papa, a range of amazing arts and cultural attractions and a strong events calendar. We have given people reasons to stop over and spend time taking a look around.”