Tourism Champion

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By ROBYN BRISTOW

Tourism Champion Graeme Abbot says the industry is in a positive mood.

Mr Abbot, who was awarded the Industry Champion Award at the New Zealand Tourism Awards in Auckland last week, says the industry has had a great winter and is looking forward to an outstanding summer.

“Forward bookings for this summer are looking strong New Zealand wide,” he says.

Mr Abbot, the general manager of Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa (HSTPS), says the “Golden Route” from Auckland, Rotorua, Central Otago and Queenstown is doing “incredibly well” and as a result of that the rest of the regions are doing really well.

The HSTPS marketing manger Shane Adcock says the whole team is “elated” for Mr Abbot who they ambushed into being nominated for the awards.

“He’s a typical humble kiwi and we knew he’d never put his hand up for such an award – so we secretly entered him. It was a bit of an ambush but it worked!”

“Graeme is a one in a million manager. His business achievements speak for themselves but what his whole team loves is his down to earth and supportive nature.”

Mr Abbot has been general manager of the award-winning pools and spa complex for 15 years. During his tenure the complex has physically grown in size by 50 per cent, visitor numbers have risen from 380,000 to 520,000 people per year and turnover has risen from $4 million to $11 million per annum.

Environmental efficiency has increased with the business now saving 100 million litres of thermal water and 431,914 kilowatts of energy every year.

Mr Abbot sits on the boards of Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism Board and MainPower and assists numerous organisations and businesses, particularly in Hanmer Springs.

“He is very well-respected and a long list of people supported our nomination of him,” says Mr Adock.

Mr Abbot was surprised when I found out the team had nominated him.

“I am very lucky to work for one of the most fantastic attractions in New Zealand’s most beautiful alpine spa village. The complex has grown enormously in the last 15 years – that’s not just down to me, it’s a team effort. I’m very touched the team thinks I deserve some recognition though!”

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa was also a finalist for the Business Excellent Award (for businesses with an annual turnover of $6 million). Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tours won that category.

“We were a little disappointed with that result but then if you’re going to lose to anyone then Hobbits are a good option.”

Mr Abbot took home a trophy, $1000 ANZ travel and $1000 in vouchers for Sudima Hotels. “We will use those for the business. It was very generous of the sponsors.”