Understanding visitor attitudes towards seafood and tourism in the Nelson/Marlborough and Golden Bay Region in New Zealand to foster innovative sustainable forms of tourism
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With the exponential increase in global travel over the last six decades, tourists have become more interested in individually customised products to satisfy their travel demands. For rural destinations, globalisation has resulted in an increasing number of visitors looking for new, authentic, cultural experiences linked to culture. This growing interest in cultural tourism by international and domestic travellers includes a new niche market linked to food and culinary tourism. In order to maintain economic sustainability and competitiveness, rural regions must respond to visitors' specific travel needs by adopting innovative forms of tourism. The Top of the South Aquaculture and Seafood Trail in the Nelson/Marlborough and Golden Bay region represents an innovative approach to tourism by partnering the seafood and tourism sectors and by introducing new products such as seafood and aquaculture tours to the tourism market. To successfully develop the seafood themed trail in the Top of the South and to balance demand and supply, it is vital to understand visitors' attitudes towards seafood and their level of interest in seafood related activities. Based on a visitor survey and case study approach in the Nelson/Marlborough and Golden Bay region in New Zealand's South Island, this research explores attitudes and expectations of international and domestic visitors at the case study site towards seafood and tourism. In order to determine visitors' attitudes and support for linking the tourism and aquaculture sectors, the creation of a visitor profile assisted in understanding visitors' interest in seafood. The results show that the majority of visitors like to eat seafood and have an interest in tasting fresh, locally harvested seafood in situ. The seafood themed trail has great potential to add value to the individual tourist experience and to support an innovative and sustainable approach to rural tourism planning, which is needed to maintain growth in primary industries such as aquaculture and tourism.