An increase in spending recorded in the Bay during Queen's Birthday Weekend compared to last year has hinted at "brighter days ahead" for the region's tourism industry.
New credit card data showed spending in the region was 7 per cent higher than Queen's Birthday Weekend last year - more than double the national growth rate of 3 per cent.
The Marketview data showed the increase was mostly from retail spending, with clothing, footwear and department store spending rising 22 per cent.
Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said the figures were encouraging and showed New Zealanders were keen to support the Coastal Bay of Plenty's tourism industry.
Dunne said the spending increase and demand for domestic travel hinted at "brighter days ahead".
"We're thrilled that the Coastal Bay of Plenty is safely welcoming our Kiwi travellers back. Our visitors have heard the call to support local and explore their own backyard."
Air New Zealand operated extra flights on its Wellington to Tauranga and Christchurch to Tauranga routes to support demand for Queen's Birthday Weekend and has announced it will operate more services to and from Tauranga during July and August.
Air New Zealand head of tourism and regional affairs Reuben Levermore said during July and August the airline will operate 28 return services per week on its Tauranga to Auckland route.
"In addition to this, there'll be 22 return services on our Tauranga to Wellington route and 10 return services per week on our Tauranga to Christchurch route, with an increase to 15 returns on Tauranga to Christchurch during the July school holiday period."
Tauranga mayor Tenby Powell was pleased to see such strong support for the region.
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"It's fantastic to see our economy humming again and we'll be working hard to keep that
"Partnerships with key players such as Air New Zealand are fast-tracking our economic rebuild."
Meanwhile, a joint proposal from Chambers of Commerce in Australia and New Zealand is advocating for the governments to open the Australia-New Zealand bubble with regular flights between Canberra and Wellington as the first step.
The proposal encouraged getting the gateway open as soon as possible to kickstart trade,
business, travel, tourism, events – and save jobs.
The Canberra-Wellington flights are proposed as a way to prove systems and processes are in place for safe and effective movement of people between the two countries.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said the proposal was a great sign of unity between the chambers on both sides of the ditch and their collective support for local businesses.
"The test flights are critical to demonstrating that there are processes and safeguards in
place to keep Covid-19 at bay and allow the free movement of people, while helping the
survival, recovery and sustainability of our tourism, export, event and travel sector.
"It's not about 'bursting the bubble', but putting plans in place to give consumers and
governments confidence that we can get back to business."
Cowley said with Air New Zealand offering direct flights to the Bay of Plenty from
Wellington, the flow-on effect for the local economy would be significant.
"A short flight from the capital brings visitors direct to our doorstep where we offer some of the best experiences in hospitality, adventure experiences and natural exploration.
"It would provide an opportunity to boost the Bay through the typically quiet months and
give visitors a lasting experience that will keep them coming back for more when travel
returns to full swing."