The conference and annual general meeting this year was held on 19 May at the Otago Museum’s Theomin Balcony in Dunedin, Otago. The building was previously the old post office, tastefully renovated with a very warm and congenial atmosphere. We were well catered for by the museum staff, well fed and we had a wonderful day in historic Dunedin.

The New Committee in 2018: Wilhem Lehmberg (Chair), Lu Tyree (Financial Officer), Colin Mairs (Membership Secretary), Helen Tait (Association Secretary with the assistance of Lu). Ordinary Committee Members – Angela D’Aquaro-Law (assistance to the Membership Secretary), Axel Knauer (dedicated Web Administrator), John Wellington and Herbie Mues.

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Highlights from the conference mentioned were:

The conference, with the theme Sustainability in Tourism, was very successful with speakers including Prof James Higham from University of Otago’s tourism department and Mike Lord, local Dunedin City Councillor and farmer. Both offered insights into the issue of sustainability. James reported on his theories of how NZ needs to be ready for the influx of overseas visitors in the face of the worldwide megatrend of huge changes in tourist movements. Mike spoke on the issue of sustainable, perhaps smart farming and the positive effects this has on the local environment, which tourists also enjoy. Both speakers were highly interesting.

The delegates participated in a workshop to establish what sustainability in tourism means for ProGuides and in our role as tour guides, driver/guides and small tour operators. This is really only the beginning of what will be a long journey to achieve a balance for all parties.

Sunday was familiarization day with Athol Parks hosting the first part with his walking tour of the old but newly revamped Warehouse Precinct in the inner city. The participants also checked out the city’s proposals for revamping the old wharf area and afterwards had a brief spell in what was the early settlers museum, now called Toitū Otago Settlers Museum.

A coach trip took the group to Emerson’s Brewery, a very worthwhile and entertaining tour, not to mention the generous tastings at the end. From here the tour continued onto Port Chalmers, where many of our Dunedin colleagues guide the cruise ship shore excursions. For others from further afield, it was a first time in the old port township, where lunch was at Carey’s Bay Hotel.

The last segment of the famil took the group to Orokonui Ecosanctuary above Blueskin bay, where the guides did overtime to host the group around their incredible reserve. It was decided on the spot to make a decent donation to the sanctuary as we established many of the guides are volunteers and were working on a Sunday for free, just for ProGuides.

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