When I was a child one of my favourite programmes was the silly rom-com series, The Love Boat. Cruising then seemed exotic, appealing but out of reach. Something other people do.

Not anymore. Now everyone is in love with cruising. In the past few years the cruise industry has heated up the travel sector, with more Kiwis catching the cruising bug.

New Zealand is also a popular destination for international cruise visitors.

This is great news for the Bay. As the huge ships dock, they bring opportunity to our shores. This year's cruise-ship season, the busiest so far, has already been a stunner for Mount Maunganui and Tauranga businesses. It looks set to get even better.


Amy McGillivray reported yesterday that $45 million will be pumped into the local economy by cruise ship visitors this season, according to projections by Tourism Bay of Plenty general manager Rhys Arrowsmith.

This is fantastic news for local retailers.

Kiwiana Gifts and Souvenirs owner Ian New said business doubled when a ship was in town. Zohar owner John Harmsen also noticed a boost when a cruise ship was in port, bringing visitors "the size of a small town".

Significantly, of the 240,000 cruise ship passengers and crew expected in Tauranga this season, about 55 per cent of passengers chose to stay in Tauranga or Mount Maunganui rather than booking tours further afield.

This is a great challenge to the common complaint you hear in Tauranga that the first thing cruise ship visitors do when they disembark is hop on a bus to Rotorua. More than half do not and choose to stay and enjoy the many attractions in Tauranga.

I met Rhys Arrowsmith recently and his enthusiasm for promoting these local attractions in our own backyard is infectious.

It is a challenge for us all to get the rest of the visitors to also stay and enjoy the Bay.

This is our responsibility as a community. It could double the amount of money being injected into local businesses.

Busy Bay summers have a positive knock-on effect for us and are a real boost to our city.