The beauty of a long weekend, even a rainy one, is that things often look a little sunnier on the other side.

And as we exit out of our first holiday weekend post-alert level 4, this couldn't be truer.

Queen's Birthday Weekend has been a boost for the local visitor economy.

Our towns and cities have felt more alive than they have in months, many of our hotels reported nearing capacity for the first time in a long time, and reports came in from tour operators and restaurants who were, at times, completely booked.


What's more, Hawke's Bay locals rose to the challenge of welcoming their out-of-town friends to the region for a Hawke's Baycation.

Of course, this isn't all day, every day, but, by crikey, it's a lovely start.

And with a potential move to alert level 1 on the cards for later this month, there is reason to feel positive.

The best news, however, is that this feeling isn't just for the tourism industry to savour.

Our visitor economy in Hawke's Bay is made up of multiple layers and thousands of businesses that represent both the private and public sector.

These include, but are not limited to, accommodation providers, tour companies, bus operators, information centres, attractions like aquariums and water parks, holiday parks, bike hire, cafes, wineries and event venues.

These are the businesses which clearly derive benefit from a cautious recovery of what we typically consider to be the tourism industry.

But it goes further than that. As food and wine country, a recovery for our region's visitor economy is a step forward in the recovery of our local economy as a whole.


Our world-class producers of fruit and vegetables, artisanal dairy products, craft beer and cider breweries, award-winning wineries, gin distillers and butcheries all see the effects of a busier visitor economy as cafes and restaurants place larger and more frequent orders for produce.

However, the trickle-down effect doesn't stop there.

It also reaches the tradespeople who service our motels and restaurants, the linen companies and cleaning companies whose work halted as the hotel sector came to a standstill, and the delivery and transport operators who rely on our region's visitors to bolster their base income.

It also reaches those farmers who supply our local butcheries, restaurants and eateries, and are busy dealing with a mammoth challenge of their own right now.

When we view visitor spending in this light, it illustrates the importance of considering and speaking about the "visitor economy" as opposed to the "tourism industry".

The latter is what you see swing into action when tourists come into town; the former, however, is a far deeper understanding and recognition of how an economy can be broadly affected when you remove the visitors (as we have just experienced), which is why we are working so hard to retrieve and protect it.