The Thames-Coromandel economy has taken one of the hardest hits from the Covid-19 pandemic, data reveals.
The June quarter report from economics consultancy Infometrics shows economic activity fell 2.4 per cent over the year to June 2020 as tourism activity plunged. This is the sixth-largest fall in economic activity across New Zealand.
Over the June 2020 year, visitor spending was down 6.4 per cent, with a $26 million drop in expenditure recorded.
TCDC say the fact tourism is one of the district's biggest earners helps explain these numbers, with the severe hit coming through when the Covid-19 pandemic slammed the door to international tourists shut.
Infometrics senior economist Brad Olsen says it was expected the three months to June would be the worst quarter for the year, after the 4.5-week lockdown took the wind out of the sails of many sectors of the economy.
"The numbers for the quarter take into account the really dark days of [Covid-19 alert] level 4, and these have not been reversed out by the better days since, under level 1," Mr Olsen says.
Those more brighter, recent times are reflected in the Marketview consumer spending data for July, which included our bumper school holiday weeks. Total consumer spending for the Thames-Coromandel district of $16.93 million for July was up 32.2 per cent on the same time last year.
"July was the peak of pent-up demand for many people with the school holidays," Mr Olsen says.
"Our view is, we are likely to see a softer profile in spending going forward. So don't bank on such a strong second rebound this time [after the current Covid-19 alert levels are eased."
Jobseeker numbers have mounted in the district, rising 27.5 per cent for the year to June. This compares to a rise of 19 per cent for the country as a whole.
"What we're starting to hear from businesses across the country is that we're likely to see job losses mount, but we could well have a bigger spike coming through at the start of 2021, as businesses keep staff on through the Christmas period," Mr Olsen says.
A key factor was expected to be what happened with the current Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland.
"The next, September, quarter might not be as glowing as we expected due to the Auckland lockdown," Mr Olsen says.
TCDC mayor Sandra Goudie says while the data is disappointing, she urged people to try and stay optimistic on the tourism front.
"Winter is always our quiet season for visitors, and we anticipate domestic tourism activity, which makes up a significant share of our market, to pick up heading into summer," she says.
Neil Oppatt, executive director at Driving Creek Railway, summed up the impact of Auckland's lockodwn on the popular tourist attraction when he simply stated: "It's dead."
There were four people riding the rail cart on Monday the week of Auckland's lockdown, its worst day in years. "Even on the days when there are road closures we do better than that," Mr Oppatt says. "We had more than 100 people a day visiting us this time last year," he says.
Aucklanders make up approximately 50 per cent of Driving Creek's domestic tourism market, and the city's lockdown has certainly taken a toll. Destination Coromandel GM Hadley Dryden says the organisation anticipated August and September would be tighter months for tourism before visitors return for Labour Weekend and summer.
It has given an industry update on its Where Kiwis Holiday summer campaign and invites tourism operators to get in touch and let them know how they are getting on.
Visitors spent $16.93 million in our district in July, up 32.2 per cent on the same time last year.
Spending data, as measured by market researcher Marketview, reveals the top performing industry was food and beverage services, where $4.52m was spent, up 43.2 per cent on the same time last year. The top performing visitor market was Auckland, spending $11.19m, a rise of 33.1 per cent on the same time last year.
A breakdown of how this spending was spread across the district is below:
Coromandel and Colville: $1.09m (up 32.6 per cent)
Ngatea and Shorebird Coast: $1.15m (down 14.10 per cent)
Northern Mercury Bay: $511 thousand (up 98.5 per cent)
Paeroa: $1.84 million (up 21.9 per cent)
Pauanui: $987 thousand (up 38.6 per cent)
Southern Mercury Bay: $620 thousand (up 40.5 per cent)
Tairua: $923 thousand (up 47.2 per cent)
Thames: $3.59m (up 17.6 per cent)
Waihi: $3.59m (up 14.8 per cent)
Whangamata: $3.63m (up 49.5 per cent)
Whitianga: $4.55 million (up 33.5 per cent)