Tourism leaders in the Bay of Plenty have welcomed increased spending announced by the Government in the lead-up to this week's Budget.
"From a local perspective, the continued focus and investment into tourism is encouraging," said Kristin Dunne, the new chief executive of Tourism BOP.
The $20 million over four years for new infrastructure and the tourism growth (see factbox) were potential opportunities for the BOP to apply for specific projects, she said.
"Additional spend for emerging markets such as India and the United States is aligned with our own draft international marketing strategy for 2016/17.
"Tourism BOP's current focus was on forming a view of what was required to achieve its vision of becoming a $1 billion annual industry, and then looking at funding options for those."
The sub-region's visitor spend to March 2015 was $773 million, up from $584 million the previous year. It had experienced an 18 per cent growth of visitor spend over the last two years, but to achieve its goal would require investment into infrastructure, new products, improved access points, improved visitor information services and additional marketing budgets to ensure a competitive share of voice, said Ms Dunne.
"We are in the formative stages of a regional growth plan, which will identify the key requirements."
One of the most encouraging trends had been an increase in tourists' length of stay, she said. However, a continuing issue for the Bay was the lack of national data that measured tourism arrivals at a regional level.
Bruce Thomasen, general manager of leading tourist attraction Skyline Rotorua, said the additional Government spend was a great effort.
"They have lifted Tourism NZ spending substantially and they are continuing with that. And obviously, with the growth of tourism in Rotorua, we are benefiting from that."
Destination Rotorua said the increase in domestic visitor nights spent in Rotorua, participation in visitor attractions, and activities and expenditure across many spending categories were possible evidence that the Famously Rotorua campaign continued to resonate well with the domestic market.
The strong growth in commercial accommodation, activity and attraction visits showed that the Rotorua visitor industry was well on track to achieving the goal of doubling the value of the industry from $500 million in 2013 to $1 billion by 2030, a spokesperson said.
Destination Rotorua chief executive Mark Rawson said the planned merger of Destination Rotorua and economic agency Grow Rotorua into a single council-controlled organisation in July would assist the development of the sector.
"Better integration between Rotorua's business development activities ... will work to build the visitor industry's capacity and capability."
Tourism Budget boost:
* The Government will invest an additional $20 million over four years to further support tourism across New Zealand. This will go towards:
* A new Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Fund to help communities with small infrastructure projects that enhance visitor experiences and help them cope with growing numbers of tourists and independent travellers ($12 million).
* Additional funding for Tourism New Zealand to target key growth markets ($8 million).
* Other recently announced tourist spending includes funding for three new national tourism projects, including $2.5 million for Te Puia for new facilities at the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua.