Ticket sales for Hawke's Bay Tourism showcase FAWC! food and wine festival exceeded expectations, a reflection the region's tourism sector is making good progress, the organisation says.

A report prepared for the Hawke's Bay Regional Council said sales of FAWC! tickets this year were up 21 per cent on last year, to 3530.

Thirty-six events were sold out this year, compared with 16 last year, and ticket sales were about $100,000 above budget.

A survey of event attendees found a high level of satisfaction, with 81 per cent of participants indicating they would return for the event next year and 60 per cent saying they would attend the Winter FAWC! events planned for the middle of next year.


"They're the key indicators for us because it means the event is working and it's meeting their expectations," said Annie Dundas, general manager of Hawke's Bay Tourism.

"From our point of view we're in year two of a growth period with the event and we certainly want it to be bigger next year so we're really pleased with how it's tracking."

The increasing interest in Winter FAWC! was pleasing because the organisation was working towards increasing visitor numbers to the region in winter, when the tourism sector was generally quieter.

With that goal in mind, the organisation had secured the local franchise for an international event called Color Run, where participants competed a 5km course complete with fun diversions including being sprayed with a different-coloured paint after each kilometre of the run.

The target market for the event was the younger 25-plus market "who like to get physical but also like to come to a nice place", Ms Dundas said.

This year's peak summer tourism season had started well with October visitor numbers ahead of last year.

"We've had a year of pretty good months. It's nice to see we've turned a corner on arrivals," she said.

Visitor credit card data was also encouraging because it showed Hawke's Bay was performing better than other regions when it came to tourist spending, she said.