More visitors are coming to Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty outside of the traditional tourist season.

Guest nights in the Bay of Plenty regional tourism organisation area, which includes Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty, were up 7.7 per cent this May on last year to 74,332, according to Statistics New Zealand.

Tourism Bay of Plenty assistant marketing and communications manager Abby Parkin said the increased visitations were really positive for the tourism economy.

The increase was reflected in recent spending figures released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise (MBIE). Annual spend to the year ended May 2016 was up 8.5 per cent on the previous year to $735.1 million, she said.


Ms Parkin said the Bay of Plenty was a seasonal destination, welcoming a huge number of visitors over the summer period.

Tourism Bay of Plenty was encouraging increased travel outside of the peak season.

"From both an international and domestic perspective, the Bay of Plenty's warm climate, relatively mild winters and long sunshine hours mean we are the perfect destination for year round travel to New Zealand."

Ms Parkin said events were a huge economic driver for tourism in shoulder and low seasons.

Tourism Bay of Plenty was a key supporter of the Tauranga City Council Major Events Strategy and promoted events to out-of-towners who might not have visited the region otherwise.

"Creating opportunities around major events such as the Tauranga National Jazz Festival, held annually over the Easter period, is a key part of our support role."

Tourism Bay of Plenty, in partnership with the 2016 Jazz Festival, also hosted a film crew for an upcoming tourism related television production airing later this year, said Ms Parkin.

Statistics New Zealand business indicators senior manager Neil Kelly said international guest nights continued to rise strongly this May compared to last nationwide, but were offset by a drop in domestic guest nights.

Domestic guest nights were down 6.4 per cent this May compared to last, with motels and hotels accounting for most of the fall.

International guest nights were up 9.7 per cent, with gains for stays at both hotels and motels.

Overall, total national guest nights for May 2016 were down just 0.4 per cent on May 2015.

North Island guest nights were down 1.2 per cent, while South Island guest nights were up 1 per cent.