Destination Rotorua boss says city is well on its way to hitting target of one billion dollars in tourism revenue.

Rotorua's booming tourism industry has pumped $593 million into the local economy in the past year - more than $120 million up on 2014.

Local tourism officials are confident the upward trend will continue with all indicators pointing towards even better growth in years to come.

According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, total visitor expenditure in Rotorua for 2014 was $471 million and for 2015 it was $593 million.

In 2014, Rotorua had 2.3 million visitors, which rose to 2.8 million people last year.


Total visitor nights spent in local accommodation went from 3.2 million in 2014, to 3.5 million nights in 2015. The average length of stay for both years was 2.3 nights.

Destination Rotorua chairman Peter Stubbs told a recent meeting of the Rotorua Lakes Council that Rotorua was well on its way to hitting its 2030 target of one billion dollars in tourism revenue.

"In my mind, I have a vision for Rotorua that it will once again, and forever, be one of the two premier tourist destinations in New Zealand.

"According to Flight Centre data ... Rotorua has grown to be the second fastest growth region across New Zealand in terms of sales' volume ... that's a really superb turnaround."

He said two recent success stories included the Redwoods Treewalk - which had led the council to consider an upgrade to the Redwoods Visitor Centre - and Crankworx, the world's largest mountain biking festival, which was back in Rotorua for its second year and brought international attention to the city.

Destination Rotorua general manager Oscar Nathan said the "Famously Rotorua" domestic marketing campaign had worked wonders with the Auckland market and they would now be looking at targeting Christchurch with a similar campaign.

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"Based on the visitor levels, coupled with an ongoing line-up of strong events, such as Crankworx next week and the Lions and World Masters Games in 2017, we should expect this current level of growth to remain solid for at least the next 18 months."

Smaller, boutique tour operators were also cashing in on the upsurge. Elite Adventures director Trent Neilson said he had hired more staff and larger capacity transport to cater for the boom.

"We are definitely busier with the favourable exchange rate and more mid-to-upper-market people back travelling.

"It's been a great year with good numbers from everywhere around the world.

"We're pretty confident with lots of bookings coming in now for next season already.

"We are feeling positive but still realise the seasonality and volatility of the game we're in.

"We have spent money on an upgraded website and better functionality for smartphones, TripAdvisor, booking capabilities, and things like that," Mr Neilson said.

Rotorua Lakes Council economic growth portfolio leader and deputy mayor Dave Donaldson said a huge amount of work had gone into creating an extremely positive environment for tourism, along with other economic growth initiatives.

He said tourism was clearly a major driver in the district's recent growth spurt. "Eighteen months ago visitor expenditure in Rotorua was about $500 million.

"We are now closing in on $600 million, and are fast heading towards our target of $1 billion.

"Every day we're hearing positive economic news about Rotorua.

"Just last month we reported a 13 per cent increase over the 2014 year in multi-day conferences held in Rotorua.

"The good economic news just keeps on coming," Mr Donaldson said.