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Visa Wellington on a Plate: What Hospitality Businesses Need to Know

Visa Wellington on a Plate (also known as Visa WOAP) is happening soon in New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington. Taking place for slightly more than two weeks in the middle of winter, from August 11–27, Wellington area restaurants and other venues are hosting celebrations. Developed in 2009 by Positively Wellington Tourism and Grow Wellington, both of which are part of the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA), Visa WOAP's purpose is to support culinary tourism in the region and expose diners to some of Wellington’s best restaurants.

Participating restaurants, bars and food trucks are providing their own exclusive menus featuring foods, beverages and desserts that showcase the unique tastes and flavours these eateries offer so you can enjoy burgers, cocktails and festival dishes that you won’t find anywhere else.

Visa WOAP also includes numerous events and pop-ups hosted by businesses and area restaurants. A new feature announced this year is a Chef Collaboration Series, which is bringing several internationally famous chefs to participate in the festival.

Individuals interested in attending a ticketed event should purchase tickets ahead of time. To attend pop-up events, which don't have ticketed entry and involve people paying on consumption, attendees can just show up at the designated location and enjoy.

Impact on Local Hospitality

This event is thought to have a positive impact on both Wellington restaurants and other hospitality companies in the area. Three hotels — the Bolton Hotel, the Intercontinental Wellington and the Museum Wellington — are participating in special accommodation offers for visiting guests to the area. Offers include 20% off room rates, complimentary breakfasts or 15% off your stay.

Big festival events like this tend to benefit hospitality businesses because festival-goers are going to need a place to stay for the duration of the festival if they’re attending from out of town. Large food festivals like Visa Wellington on a Plate bring increased tourism and business for restaurants, bars and nearby hotels.

In 2011, a study showed that the event added $1.6 million in turnover to participating restaurants, a significant amount of revenue. In 2012, it was found that the event had a large impact on the economy, especially on GDP and employment. Direct spending by the people who attended from outside Wellington totalled $1.41 million and it generated $655,000 in GDP. The study noted that its contribution to both GDP and employment is up 49% from 2011. More and more restaurants participate every year, with 120 establishments taking part in the festivities in 2015.

For 2017, Visa Wellington on a Plate has evolved into a multifaceted event. Not only does it include 140 restaurants, food trucks and bars creating special menus with limited items, but a separate Burger Festival is also offering matched beers, of which there are expected to be 123 choices. Given that there were only 35 burgers in the 2010 event, the first year of the festival, growth has been tremendous since then.

Local and international tourists view Wellington as a destination for food and hospitality; many tourists are expected to attend this year’s event for 17 days in August. In Wellington, in particular, food and beverage sales account for 28% of international visitors’ spending, compared with 23% nationwide. That is a sizable amount that’s sure to benefit local restaurants and other hospitality businesses.


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