As head of Wellington Culinary Events Trust and festival director of Visa Wellington On a Plate, Sarah is deeply connected to the hospitality community in the city. And for her, community is the key to breathing the life force back into the sector and the city.
“Wellington is fantastic at taking a community approach to things. We have seen that in the last two years in hospitality – the sector collaboration really shone through: Areas like Te Aro, where you have a whole range of businesses who supported each other. The At Yours Visa Wellington On a Plate click-and-collect service was another great way of helping businesses keep trading through tough times.”
Collaboration needs to go to a new level
But Sarah says the collaboration needs to be lifted to a whole new level, and she sees the city council as having a vital role to play which is currently untapped.
“I want to see us be in a position where we get our confidence back. We are all part of that, creating a positive, collaborative environment where businesses can thrive.
“People can choose to set up their business anywhere they feel appreciated. We have amazing business people wanting to do awesome stuff – so let’s make it easy for them!”
“Everyone needs everyone else”
She would like to see red tape slashed, and the council and hospitality businesses really start to partner with each other.
“One thing the pandemic taught us is that everyone needs everyone else. The council provides a service to our sector in the same way we provide a service to our customers. How can they regulate to make it easier to set up and operate here?”
Sarah also wants to see more courage in the city.
“We need risk-takers and we need to be gutsy. We’re about to have visitors come back – are we proud to welcome them to our city? Let’s invest in city vibrancy and events. Let’s clean up our city, get the pipes laid and buildings upgraded and get on with it. I want to feel proud and I want to be in love with Wellington again.”
Sarah is excited about the potential of the new events and conference centre Tākina, and there are standout success stories including the craft beer sector in Wellington – but she wants the city to step up and truly be able to support international growth for the food and drink sector.
What’s your view on collaboration as a key to Wellington’s future success? Let us know by taking our survey on Lets Talk.