GOLOCAL

Business confidence among Tauranga accommodation providers is proving strong as they invest in their facilities and prepare for market recovery.

Accommodation providers are choosing the post-Covid-19 period to enhance their businesses by carrying out important building work, renovations and improvements.

Tourism Bay of Plenty product manager Brad Rowe said now was a great time for businesses to get "future-ready".

"It's really positive to see this confidence in the market," he said.

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"Covid-19 has been tough for providers throughout New Zealand and it has impacted us hard, but the Coastal Bay of Plenty has a strong domestic visitor market.

"We're working hard to keep enticing Kiwis to holiday here while also future-proofing and developing our tourism industry."

Rowe said many providers were taking a 30-year viewpoint and could see the value in investing now for the future.

Harbourside City Backpackers is carrying out extensive earthquake strengthening and renovations.

It is expected to re-open in mid-October and will be re-branded as Wanderlust NZ.

Owner Sarah Meadows said the business relied heavily on the international market, but once renovations were complete, their accommodation offering would be more appealing to the domestic market.

"We are adding 42 beds to the market, bringing our total beds to 114, as well as a special group area for up to 30 guests with stunning views to the harbour," she said.

Harbourside City Backpackers owners Matt Young and Sarah Meadows. Photo / George Novak
Harbourside City Backpackers owners Matt Young and Sarah Meadows. Photo / George Novak

"Until the borders re-open and we see more international visitors, we have to do things a bit differently and the renovations are timed well to grow our New Zealand customer base."

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Meadows believed the renovations will help to bring more vibrancy and life to downtown Tauranga.

Owner of 850 Cameron Hotel, Tony Bullot, said he made the strategic decision to compete at the top end of the market and has refurbished the hotel's rooms to go beyond customers' expectations.

This has included soft refurbishments such as installing top-end TVs and phone-charging docks.

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"The tourism industry was hammered during lockdown, but I believe that recovery is only based on confidence, and we feel positive about the future," he said.

Mount Maunganui Beachside Holiday Park is also adding more self-contained units to add capacity, and Hotel Armitage is upgrading its rooms and conference centre.

Hotel Armitage general manager Nicolas Caffardo said they were committed to investing in the Tauranga economy.

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"While conferencing numbers are down, it's an ideal time to be doing renovations. Once complete, the new conference facility will give us a greater opportunity to market our business," he said.

Launched in March, Tourism Bay of Plenty's destination management plan Te Hā Tāpoi | The Love of Tourism aims to increase domestic visitor numbers and ultimately generate income for our retail and hospitality sectors, as well as keep the local tourism industry in jobs.

Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said confidence was surprisingly high at the moment given the circumstances.

"Most businesses we talk to are wary of what the future might bring, but happy with how things are going right now.

"Retail spend will be one of the key drivers of that confidence."

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said he had heard people were investing in their business to help them adapt post-Covid-19.

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Cowley said most people were pleasantly surprised with the consumer spending levels since lockdown.

"After several weeks of supressed spending during lockdown, consumer spending has sprung back to near-normal levels.

"I hear golf memberships and equipment sales are sky-high."

But, of course, there were certain sectors facing challenging times, including travel and marketing agencies.

"Travel agencies are quickly adapting by building domestic packages."

Cowley said the region will rebound in time.

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"We have a thriving primary sector. Our long-term population growth will likely remain constant.

"Our community has an excellent history of rebounding after the GFC, Rena grounding, and the PSA kiwifruit outbreak."