Tourism is the big winner for Tauranga with $860 million spent in one year, new data shows - and business leaders say the sector is poised for more growth.
The Infometrics Quarterly Economic Monitor September report commissioned by Priority One reveals total tourism expenditure in Tauranga City jumped by 7.2 per cent in the year to September 2019.
Meanwhile, total tourism expenditure was about $860m in one year, up from $802m the year before.
Other key influences were population growth with 6000 new residents added last year, taking the population to more than 140,000. Meanwhile, gross domestic product climbed 2.9 per cent in one year and consumer spending had an increase of 5.4 per cent, alongside house prices that went up by 7.3 per cent.
But on the downside, residential consents slipped by 6.4 per cent and non-residential consents nosedived by 27.7 per cent, alongside house sales which dipped by 1.2 per cent.
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said the report showed a changing local economy, with softening building consents despite increasing population growth.
''General activity, including retail and tourism spend, remains strong. Notably, despite strong growth in the population, our unemployment rate is very low.''
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said the city's growing population adds to the local economic and cultural vibrancy.
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"We are welcoming many new families and their skill sets that help local businesses. Our population increase has also attracted a wider variety of places to shop, eat and ways to be entertained."
However, growing populations put increasing pressure on existing infrastructure, he said.
"The city has to continue to invest in infrastructure to efficiently move more people around, give them access to water, and manage their waste."
But local retailers were starting to see the benefit of increasing public sector wages for police, teachers and healthcare.
Tourism Bay of Plenty marketing and communications executive Ella Shirley said last year it hired two product managers to develop more tourism offerings in the Bay, with a focus on kaihautū and the Māori economy.
The organisation was working with local iwi and hapū to develop cultural tourism offerings in the region.
"Tourism Bay of Plenty is working to increase the authentic tourism offering in our region that aligns with our DNA. This year we worked with Tourism New Zealand on a National Geographic Travel campaign for its US audience."
Meanwhile, international visitor spending grew 17 per cent in the last year and domestic visitor spending climbed by 4 per cent in the Coastal Bay of Plenty territorial authority.
Hospitality NZ Bay of Plenty and Waikato regional manager Alan Sciascia said even though
general business confidence was down and some foreign tourist numbers were levelling off, domestic tourism was expected to rise as more Kiwis holiday at home.
"As a consequence, we do expect the Bay of Plenty region and Tauranga/Mount Maunganui, in particular, to do well. The increase in guest nights and total tourism spend indicates that this may already be happening if the coming summer weather is to be as good as expected, then we expect the region to do well."
In October, Monte Gelato at Mount Maunganui closed for 10 days for a total revamp in time for the busy season.
Gelato technician Estera Paul said during the summer holiday period they were open until 10.30pm and sometimes there were lines out the door.
"It gets pretty crazy."
She said the refurbishment of the shop, which included new signage, outside tables and chairs and freezer cabinets from Italy, was completed to meet demand.