The tourism industry has created 1220 new positions over a four-year period with tourism officials now seeking financial support to be able to create thousands more jobs and boost the local economy.
Tourism leaders say job numbers have increased in recent years and the best way to sustain that was by increasing resources.
According to figures released by Tourism Bay of Plenty, in the year ending March 2016, which was the latest available reporting period, there were 7440 people employed in the tourism sector in the region - including the Tauranga City, Western Bay of Plenty District and Whakatane District Council catchments - compared with 6220 in the year ending March 2013.
Waimarino Adventure Park marketing manager Sam Cameron said in the last five years they had been able to increase staff numbers and keep people employed longer given it was a seasonal operation.
About five years ago the company's peak season was between the middle of November and the middle of February but this had been increasing steadily to a point where they were now operating between October and April.
Cameron said this year they had been able to employ 25 fulltime staff - 10 year-round and the other 15 during peak season. She said this was a 30 per cent growth from about four years ago.
During the same time period, the average income of those working in the tourism sector increased from $32,796 to $37,857, according to the independently-commissioned report by Fresh Info.
Of those employed in tourism in the year ending March 2016, 22 per cent were in retail, 21 per cent in transport, 18 per cent in food and beverage, 11 per cent in accommodation, 7 per cent in the arts and recreation sector and 21 per cent in other sectors.
Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said the figures reinforced the important contribution tourism made to the region's economy.
"Our Visitor Economy Strategy aims to build on this by growing the region's visitor economy from $1b to $1.45b over the next 10 years, creating another 4000 jobs in the sector," Dunne said.
"The sector is wrongly undervalued when it is perceived as providing only low-skill and low-value roles.
"This data dispels this myth - 7440 people in our community earning an average of $37,857 in jobs of their choice, is absolutely meaningful to those families, and we care about the sustainability of that income and those jobs into the future."
She said Tourism Bay of Plenty was hoping to secure $621,000 of extra funding from Tauranga City Council in 2018/19, to introduce a dedicated destination management role that would help grow the visitor economy by another 60 per cent per year and increase employment by 4000 jobs in the next decade.
The funding request was made through the Tauranga City Council's Long Term Plan, with submissions closing on Monday.
"As a regional tourism organisation, we take our role of guardianship extremely seriously. We live in a beautiful part of the world and we want it to stay that way for future generations, but we can't plan for and mitigate the negative effects of rapid tourism growth without additional funding," Dunne said.
Last year, $1 billion was spent by tourists in the coastal Bay of Plenty, which stretched from Waihi Beach to Ohope. Of that, $782m was spent in Tauranga and $94m in the Western Bay of Plenty.
Regional Tourism New Zealand executive officer Charlie Ives said destination planning, development and management was a critical facet of growing tourism in the Bay.
Tourism Bay of Plenty funding:
It receives $1.3m combined from Tauranga City Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council and Whakatane District Council.
Of the $1.3 million, Tauranga City Council's investment is $1,021,000.
If successful council's investment would be $1,627,766.