Eighty cruise ships visited Tauranga over the 2013-2014 cruise season with an estimated $45 million to $50 million injected into the Western Bay economy.
The final cruise liner to visit the Port of Tauranga this season was the Dawn Princess which berthed at 7.15am yesterday and sailed for Auckland at 7pm last night.
Tourism Bay of Plenty general manager Rhys Arrowsmith said about 82 ships visited the region last year and this season the city welcomed 80 cruise ships, with more passengers deciding to spend more time in the district.
"Exact numbers of passengers and crew are not yet available but the approximate figure is over 220,000 and the value to this region's economy is estimated to be between $45 and $50 million.
"This year we sighted an increase in Australian visitors and there is an expectation that future years will bring a growth in Chinese and South East Asian passengers," he said.
Mr Arrowsmith said there had been better recording of passenger movements this year.
"We are pleased to say that over 50 per cent of passengers are staying to enjoy the Western Bay of Plenty, and 42 per cent of tickets sales via the i-port are local tours," he said.
Mr Arrowsmith said this was a reflection of all the years of hard work the industry had invested.
"Main Street Mount Maunganui and Downtown Tauranga continue to make improvements to how they recognise the cruise passengers. A big step change has been the shuttle bus turned on by the Downtown Tauranga collective which has seen a big lift in passenger movements, and gives passengers the option to shop both public centres during their stay."
Next cruise season there are already 87 ships booked to visit Tauranga, he said.
Mr Arrowsmith said it was vital everyone played their part in welcoming cruise ship passengers.
Tuskany's Tauranga Mainstreet champion Sally Cooke said an estimated 87,000 cruise ship passengers were shuttled from the Port into the heart of Tauranga over this cruise season. "Tourism BOP tell us that the average spend by a cruise ship passenger on port calls is around US$100 and so on that basis we potentially delivered over $870,000 into the city centre," she said.
"It's an encouraging start but clearly there is still significant potential for us to capture more of the cruise ship market, and that is something we are continuing to work on."
Mount Mainstreet manager Leanne Brown said that year on year passengers choosing to spend time in the Western Bay had been steadily increasing, which was a "pleasing and encouraging" sign.
But while the region as a whole benefited from the cruise ship market, she personally believed cruise passengers individually did not spend any more than the average holidaymaker, because most were Australians and Kiwis who were not "big spenders".
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dave Burnett said it appeared to have been a good season for local retailers.