Local events and an increase in off-peak tourism have boosted visitor spending in the Bay of Plenty.
According to the latest Monthly Regional Tourism Estimates released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the tourism spend for the whole region was estimated to be $1.9 billion for the year to March 2018, up 8 per cent from the previous year.
Specifically, in the Tauranga City, Western Bay of Plenty and Whakatane Districts it was estimated tourists spent just over $1 billion, an increase of 7.6 per cent compared to 2017.
Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said local events such as the National Jazz Festival and the long weekend of Easter "definitely boosted these results".
She said the efforts of Tourism Bay of Plenty and Tourism New Zealand to grow off-peak and shoulder-season visitor spending was showing "significant returns on investment".
"Our sole focus is on growing visitor spend from March to November to lessen the seasonality of the tourism industry in the Bay of Plenty.
"Local events, good weather, targeted promotions domestically and internationally, and ever-increasing cruise passenger numbers all contribute to this growth," she said.
An increase in visitor spending during the traditionally quieter months would mean a "more sustainable" tourism industry where businesses were able to support themselves and their employees throughout the year, Dunne said.
"A core focus of Destination Management is reducing the impacts of seasonality so that businesses have increased patronage throughout the year, instead of just one summer peak.
"This would mean business cash flows are more stable so they can potentially retain or recruit more staff."
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment manager of sector trends Mark Gordon said for the whole Bay of Plenty region $595m was spent by international tourists, an increase of 10 per cent compared with the year to March 2017.
There was an increase of 7 per cent of domestic tourist spending, which was estimated at $1.3b for the whole region.
"When it comes to the monthly expenditure, tourism spend in Bay of Plenty for the month of March 2018 is up 14 per cent compared with the month of March 2017," Gordon said.
Tauranga's waterfront is looking a little less colourful as the city prepares to jump into the winter months.
Waterworld, the inflatable obstacle course which was located just off the tidal steps, was taken down on Friday.
The large inflatables were erected in December last year, and the first lot of swimmers took to the course on Boxing Day.
Waterworld owner Kel Travers said the season started off well with good numbers of people coming through in December and January.
Despite visitor spending numbers showing a significant increase for the month of March, Travers said visitors to the park did drop.
"February and March were terrible due to the weather and the lack of people at The Strand."
He said easterly winds blew a lot over summer which meant the water park had to close "quite a lot" over the past four months.
Travers said overall he was happy with how the first year of opening the water park went, but he was not sure if The Strand was the right place to have Waterworld in the future.
"Positive is we brought a lot of people to The Strand who probably wouldn't have visited."