Tuscany Gardens owners Paul and Adela Jones and Erban Spa Nelson owner Tracey Ruru are actively promoting their businesses through the winter. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

Winter shutdown stalls development

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Nelson is still open for business – that’s the message coming through loud and clear from local business owners as they face another Nelson winter.

As the colder months descend, many local businesses take advantage of the quieter periods to take time to put their feet up.

However, Cable Bay Adventure Park owner Richard Ussher says this is one of the major factors in stalling Nelson’s development as a year-round destination.

“It would be great to start tipping the balance away from a seasonal approach to a year-round strategy.”

Richard says Nelson will always be a great summer destination, but there seems to be more people around than ever before.

“Nelson has many opportunities to capture and grow the winter section of the market.”

Owner of Erban Spa Nelson, Tracey Ruru, says that too many businesses just “accept” that winter is quiet and bide their time until spring.

“Two of our busiest days have been when it’s bleak, rainy and cold, so why would we close in winter? We need to show consistency with our hours, people won’t be attracted to coming here if lots of places are closed.”

She says the city has a stigma of being “sleepy old Nelson” in the winter.

“But we have a chance to really show we are a fantastic year-round destination like Queenstown.”

A Nelson Regional Development Agency (NRDA) spokesperson says 43 per cent of total local visitor expenditure occurs in the three months of summer – from December to February and it is working to emphasise the shoulder seasons.

Tuscany Gardens Motor Lodge owners Adela and Paul Jones took over in November and say, so far, they see nothing but potential for Nelson.

“We’ve heard the saying ‘only old people live in Nelson’, but that’s just not true. We have so much to offer to all ages and we just need to make sure we are offering that all year round,” says Paul.

Adela says Nelson is such a desired destination and is so easily accessible to New Zealanders.

“We have everything that places like Queenstown have to offer, but without the high price tags. I think winter gets forgotten … but actually the winter is so gorgeous here compared to other parts of the country.”