Rotorua Daily Post: Rotorua - tourism capital

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A large part of our local economy relies on tourists visiting and spending money here with local retailers or tour operators. We all know that Rotorua is a special place – we have a lot to offer when it comes to attracting people to visit. Whether it’s our spectacular geothermal geysers, world class mountain biking tracks or the famous skyline luge, coupled with exceptional Maori culture Rotorua is a hub of activity making it a popular destination for tourists.

During busy summer months, Rotorua is buzzing with people from both overseas and domestically. Hotels are full, while local retailers and shop owners are busy selling goods and services to visitors.

Last week the Lonely Planet travel guide added Whakarewarewa to their list of the 500 best places in the world to visit. This list is read by millions of people worldwide, and will again show people overseas that Rotorua is a must-do when visiting New Zealand. This news got me thinking about our local tourist industry and how well it performs.

Both central and local Government understand this, which is why we’ve been working together to upgrade infrastructure to make the Bay of Plenty more attractive as a high quality visitor destination. It was only a few months ago that the Prime Minister was in town announcing a $350,000 cash grant from our tourism growth fund to explore the construction of a new world class, five star spa and hotel on our waterfront. This alone would have major benefits to our economy, with an expected boost of up to $48 million from the project – the majority of which will stay local.

Many will have cycled the recently upgraded mountain biking tracks on Mount Ngongotaha at Skyline. After $225,000 worth of funding, the facility is now world class and a great asset for us locally. Of course it also played host to the Crankworx festival earlier this year, which brought a huge influx of people into our region. We also got the benefit of international exposure from the Red Bull TV crew who came to the event, sharing Rotorua to over 4.5 million people around the world.

All of this investment in local infrastructure, as well as better promotion of our great attractions, means more visitors and ultimately more people spending in our local economy. This means that local businesses can expand to meet higher demand, meaning more and better paying jobs for locals to support their families.

Rotorua has enjoyed strong growth in both visitors numbers and visitor spent during the month of June. In particular, there was good growth in our key markets such as China, North America, and Japan, with a total of 27,600 people visiting – an increase of 31 per cent more visitors on the same month last year. Over that same period, the value of electronic card purchases in Rotorua by international visitors increased by 41 per cent. This is great news, and will be welcome by local businesses, hotel owners, and tourism operators.

Tourism is a vital industry locally and nationally. A lot of jobs rely on the tourism industry being strong, which is why the Government will continue to promote Rotorua as a world-class destination.