A Bay of Plenty tourism leader says the region's commercial accommodation supply will not be able to cope with the growing demand of major events such as the AIMS Games.
Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said she has heard from several accommodation providers in the Bay of Plenty that were fully booked with visitors here for the event.
Bookings on online accommodation websites are also booming this week and some schools have had to be creative when looking for a place to stay, bunking down in local marae or billeting their students out.
Ms Dunne said the AIMS Games was an incredible event, with more than 10,000 competitors, plus coaches and family.
"With that number of visitors, our commercial accommodation supply will not be able to cope with the demand."
She said suitable accommodation supply was the single biggest obstacle to growth in tourism, major events and conferences.
"And we are missing out on so many economic opportunities for the region."
Ms Dunne said often large groups would prefer to stay together for the AIMS Games and the options for that were limited.
"Schools and families have to get very creative to find accommodation - from marae stays to billeting, to renting homes/baches and apartments, to staying out of the area."
She said it was wonderful how the community responded to help with the problem.
AIMS Games tournament director Vicki Semple said as soon as the event ends each year, they started planning for the next year by liaising with schools and getting a feel for expected numbers.
"From there we can engage with as many accommodation providers as possible."
That included hotels, motels, camping grounds, marae, sports clubs, schools and hundreds of private homes.
"It all comes about through a city opening its arms to all those visitors for a week."
Ms Semple said the AIMS Games were synonymous with Tauranga and "a huge reason for that is the way our community rallies around the event and makes things happen".
"There's no other town or city in New Zealand that would open their doors every year like we do and no other local body that would go the extra mile as much as Tauranga City Council does."
Ms Semple said every year they have a strategic review to decide on how future events will look and to keep the balance between quantity and quality.
"And this year will be no different. Accommodation is always a juggle but every year, innovative locals come up with new ways to host teams and there's no reason this won't continue."
Gareth Wallis, manager of city events at the Tauranga City Council, said the AIMS Games attracted more athletes than the Commonwealth Games and was one of Tauranga's biggest weeks of the year.
He said it had an "enormous positive impact" on the city and annual economic benefit studies have shown that in both 2014 and 2015, the tournament generated 37,500 visitor nights and in 2016 it generated 47,500 visitor nights.
"This is a significant amount during the off-peak season for the accommodation and tourism sector."
Mr Wallis said as well as the direct economic spin-offs - accommodation, food and beverage, transport, retail shopping, attractions and entertainment - the AIMS Games also added to the vibrancy of the city and helped support future growth and prosperity.
• Tomorrow: Helping to house the temporary homeless during AIMS Games.
Booking in early
The Naenae Intermediate School netball team from Lower Hutt is staying in an Airbnb house close to the courts in Mount Maunganui this week.
There are 12 people - nine students and three teachers - in the five-bedroom home.
Teacher and team manager Amy Uriaro said, "It's a little bit of a squish" but the location makes up for it.
"Because we're just so close to the courts, we don't mind being squished so much. We're just stoked that we're so close because it's so much easier for our girls."
Ms Uriaro said Naenae Intermediate School comes to the AIMS Games every second year and always has to book accommodation for their next trip straight away.
They managed to secure this Mount Maunganui house halfway through last year.
"We know of other schools that book into the hotels, but they pre-book anyway so we know there's no point in even looking. Airbnb is probably the only option for us."
The school also has a sevens team competing in the AIMS Games.
That group, also 12 people including teachers, is staying at an Airbnb closer to the sevens field.
There has been a 144 per cent spike in the number of people staying in Airbnb accommodation in Tauranga during the AIMS Games when compared with the surrounding weeks, with more than 1000 guest arrivals between September 8 and 14.
About 300 Airbnb listings have been booked in Tauranga during that period, and in the wider Bay of Plenty region about 500 Airbnb listings have been booked.
There have been more than 1800 guest arrivals in the wider region - a 42 per cent increase on the surrounding weeks.
Bookabach has also had an upsurge in bookings during the AIMS Games week.
It has seen a 317 per cent increase in the Tauranga district between September 8 and 14 compared with the week before, with 1100 guests staying across 300 properties.
There has also been a 15 per cent rise in bookings and a 28 per cent increase in the number of guests compared with the AIMS Games week last year.