Some Bay tourism operators say this summer is shaping up to be the best season yet for the industry.
However, a spokesman for the accommodation sector said bookings were not on par with previous years.
Colony honey shop is located in three different spots around the country and owner Kris Jansen said the Mount Maunganui store was by far the busiest in the three-week holiday period.
"I have seen a 25 per cent increase for us.
"Of course, there are more and more cruise ships coming in, but I think we have more people moving down here [Mount Maunganui], so there are more friends and family coming down too."
Jansen believed weather always impacted shoppers' behaviours and said visitor numbers were still high thanks to visiting cruise ships and those taking extended leave.
Although official visitor spend data has not yet been released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Tourism Bay of Plenty destination and marketing executive Ella Shirley said anecdotal evidence showed the season had been busier than previous holiday periods.
"We have anecdotally heard from several Tauranga-based tourism businesses that they're busier than last year."
Visitor spend contributes more than $1 billion into the coastal Bay of Plenty economy every year, Shirley said.
Last holiday season visitor spend reached $133 million in December 2018 and $144m in January 2019.
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Accommodation providers Shirley had spoken to were at capacity and had been right through the Christmas New Year period.
However, Hospitality New Zealand accommodation sector Bay of Plenty chairman Tony Bullot believed international tourist numbers were down this year after a four-year increase - leaving rooms empty.
"From Christmas Day until January 6, people are calling all hours of the night looking for rooms, but that is only over that short period, and there are certainly rooms available in Tauranga at the moment.
"The shortage is only over a week and the shortage that has been there in the past is not there."
The 850 Cameron Motel owner said the trend was already apparent before the eruption of Whakaari/White Island which resulted in 18 people dead and two unaccounted for.
Comvita is only a quick drive from popular tourist destinations, Tauranga and Rotorua, and therefore attracts visitors from both direction, believes retail and product training manager Ronnie Butt.
"With the cruise ship sector booming, we have seen a noticeable rise in travellers and holidaymakers over the summer period, largely from South East Asia, Europe, the United States and Mainland China.
"We estimate the increase to be around 30 per cent more than in 2019."
With a wide range of sporting, music and community events taking place across the city, it was also Tauranga's busiest event season yet, said Tauranga City Council general manager of community services Gareth Wallis.
"This has included the TECT National Sevens, two of New Zealand's biggest music festivals Bay Dreams and One Love, three international ODIs and the city's first test match at Bay Oval.
"All of these events not only create opportunities for locals to enjoy world-class entertainment, but they also boost the local economy by bringing visitors who support local shops, hotels and restaurants."
It was the same story for the hospitality sector, said Bay of Plenty regional manager at Hospitality New Zealand Alan Sciascia.
"This is the time of year when it is traditionally busy with people travelling and celebrating with friends and family.
"Tourism has been strong both domestic and international and we expect this to continue through 2020."
He said it was too early to say whether this was the best year ever because he was awaiting statistics.