Rotorua residents and visitors to the city can look forward to some world-class events in 2011, with local businesses keen to make the most of a busy year ahead.
Some estimates suggest events being held in Rotorua this year would bring tens of millions of dollars into the city, providing a timely boost for local businesses. This summer Rotorua has something for everyone, beginning with the World Invitation Superstock Championships at Paradise Valley Raceway this weekend, the free annual Lakeside Concert next weekend and the Raggamuffin music festival on February 5.
Sports fans have plenty to choose from, the Chiefs playing the Highlanders in a Super 15 rugby pre-season match in Taupo and the Warriors taking on Parramatta Eels in an NRL pre-season match in Rotorua on February 12.
Rotorua's biennial Arts Festival will begin on February 20 and Australian Idol winner Stan Walker will perform in Rotorua on February 26. Rotorua District Council Economic Development general manager Grant Kilby said Rotorua was ready for a big year. "It's important we focus on and deliver quality events to our city ... we get real value out of these events when people come prior to the event and stay post-event."
He said events aimed at specific business sectors, such as the Rotorua Forestry and Wood Industries Festival being held in early September were about showcasing Rotorua and the Bay of Plenty to the rest of the world.
Rotorua publican and Hospitality Association of New Zealand vice-president Reg Hennessy said he was excited about the events coming to the city.
"Naturally, the [Rugby] World Cup will be the showcase event this year. Let's hope we are prepared and Rotorua can look after its guests like the Prime Minister wants us to." Major events led to good returns for local businesses, if they were ready for them.
"It's up to us in the hospitality industry to support these events and to make sure the experience for our visitors is a memorable and safe one," he said.
Treks YHA Rotorua hostel manager Haylee Bloor said the hostel's backpacker accommodation had been fully booked for Waitangi Weekend for some time.
"We are chokka ... the majority of the bookings are for Raggamuffin ... it's good to hear there are a lot of events here in Rotorua this year."
Miss Bloor said with the Rugby World Cup coming in the tourism off-season she was confident 2011 would be much better for business than the last year had been.
Raggamuffin publicist Sandra Roberts said ticket sales for Australasia's largest reggae festival were tracking well and on target to hit 30,000. "It's two weeks later than last year's concert and is timed to coincide with Bob Marley's birthday on February 6. Ticket sales have been much the same as last year," she said.
Rotorua Events and Venues general manager Peter McLeod said summer was the peak period for events in Rotorua. "It's wall-to-wall events just about every weekend. The Rugby World Cup will put more of a focus on us as an event destination. Annual events such as Raggamuffin have been good for us ... it shows we can handle big events." Mr McLeod said more interest had been shown in Rotorua as a conference destination since the airport gained international status.
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Roger Gordon said this year's events would bring "mega millions" into the city, providing a much-needed boost for businesses.
Heritage Hotel general manager Marcus Keenan said he was already fielding inquiries from international tourists regarding accommodation during the Rugby World Cup period. He thought Rotorua and the Bay of Islands would be swamped with tourists during the World Cup.
World Invitation Superstock Championship - January 14 and 15.
Lakeside Concert - January 22.
Opera in the Pa - January 29.
Blue Lake Multisport Festival - January 29 and 30.
Raggamuffin music festival - February 5.
Chiefs vs Highlanders Super 15 pre-season in Taupo - February 5.
NRL Warriors vs Parramatta Eels - February 12.
Rotorua Arts Festival - February 20 to March 10.
Magic vs Steel (netball) at the Energy Events Centre - February 20.
Stan Walker concert at Energy Events Centre - February 26.
New Zealand Ironman in Taupo - March 5.
NRL Warriors vs Sharks in Taupo - April 3.
Women's Lifestyle Expo at the Energy Events Centre - June 25 and 26.
Rotorua Forestry and Wood Industries Festival - September 5, 6 and 7.
Rugby World Cup matches in Rotorua - September 10, 14, 25.
The Skilled Workers and Investors Expo - October 13.