Saturday, 1 April 2017

NEW ZEALAND: Plenty At Bay Of Plenty

The Bay of Plenty's latest figures in tourism showed a $63 million increase in year-to-year spend.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's (MBIE) latest statistics show year-end spending to February in the coastal Bay of Plenty region was up 6.7 per cent, from $876m in February 2016 to $939m in February 2017.

Overseas visitors attributed for nearly a quarter of the annual guest spend, $213m, up 13.3 per cent on the previous year.

Spending for the month of February was up 4 per cent to $87m, outperforming its neighbour Rotorua, which saw $75m in spending for the month.

Tourism Bay of Plenty CEO Kristin Dunne said they had a fantastic summer period.

"The consistency of these upwards figures heading into the cooler months show the Bay of Plenty has much more than traditional summer holiday appeal, with an abundance of natural attractions, increased retail opportunities and a growing cafe and restaurant culture," she says.

"It's also exciting to see overseas visitor spending on the rise."

Ms Dunne said the region was starting to reap the rewards of careful planning and putting long-term strategies in place to draw out the peak season into the shoulder months - a key goal for Tourism Bay of Plenty.

These upward trending figures also come at a time when the Bay of Plenty has been ranked the fastest-growing region in the country at 7.7 per cent, according to latest Statistics New Zealand data.

The growth in both the economy and visitor numbers feeds into region-wide initiatives Tourism Bay of Plenty is implementing, primarily the No Place Like Home campaign.

The campaign, rolled out in January, is a community-focused project, designed to make residents aware of experiences and attractions in the region that are uniquely Bay of Plenty.

Priority One Strategic Projects manager Greg Simmonds said the tourism industry was a key component to the Bay's economy and there was potential for further growth.

"It is fantastic to see the sector growing and it is a big employer in the region. With more quality tourism product offerings, I think the Bay is a very attractive destination for people."

"It has always been strong for domestic visitors but is now becoming increasingly known as an international destination."

Western Bay of Plenty District Council mayor Gary Webber said both councils had invested heavily in Tourism Bay of Plenty and it was great to see the dividends.

"Like all investments some of them take time and this has been delivered. It also reflects on the professional management and governance we have got in Tourism Bay of Plenty to try to grow a region positively.

"Anything that grows our economy grows employment opportunities and the return on investment for many businesses."

Owner operator of Mount Maunganui Surf Academy Andy Collins said there had definitely been a rise in the number of people he saw around the region.

"There are a lot more people coming into Tauranga each year, the beach is so much busier during the weekends," he said.

"A few years ago you would have no trouble getting a park down the Mount. Now from 10am, you can't park anywhere between the Mount and Grove Ave, it's mayhem."

Mr Collins said each year more and more people approached him for surfing lessons.

Tauranga Tandem Skydiving chief executive John Martin said he got a lot of tourists through his business to get a glimpse of the Bay from the sky.

Numbers this past summer were "plain sailing" as all the wet weather in the region meant lost days he could take punters in the air.