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Overseas visitors spend big in Bay

Spending by international tourists in Hawke’s Bay last December hit a six-year high, new figures show.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment regional tourism indicators reveal the international tourism spend in December 2014 was 38 per cent higher than in December 2012 and 27 per cent higher than in December 2013.

Spending by domestic tourists was 6 per cent less than in December 2012 but 4 per cent more than in 2013.

Hawke’s Bay Tourism general manager Annie Dundas said the good fortunes in tourism were largely due to the upturn in the economy.

“We’ve been in a horrible recession and now we’re coming well out of it,” she said.

“Generally, more people are travelling and so spending money further afield.”

A reduction in fuel prices and the large number of events in the region had probably also contributed to the increase, she said.

“We get a lot of people who travel here by car, so lower prices in fuel has meant people can get in their cars and come here more freely and easily.

“We also had a strong November of events and a lot of stuff pre-Christmas that drew people to Hawke’s Bay.”

A good December weather-wise had further made Hawke’s Bay an enjoyable place to be, she said.

Ms Dundas hoped a range of events – advertised and yet to be announced – would drive a month-on-month increase in tourism this year.

Countrywide, international tourism spending was up by 21 per cent year-on-year while domestic spending was up by 4 per cent.

Labour’s tourism spokesman Peeni Henare said tourism seemed to be tracking along well – but there was room for improvement.

“I think there’s scope for more to be done around eco-tourism,” he said. “There are operators out there who feel they’re being ignored at the moment.

“Adventure tourism also needs tightening up.

“The Government put in a whole lot of regulations for compliance which have caused a lot of operators to go under because they cost too much.”

More could be done in the regions as well, he said.

“A whole heap of regional operators are looking for a slice of the action …

“They’re not feeling benefits of booming tourism market at the moment.

“Eco-tourism in the likes of Northland is amazing but no one ever talks about it.”

Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key was unavailable for comment.

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