Weekend Sun column
More people than ever before are visiting New Zealand, staying for longer and spending more.
Figures released last week show that a record three million visitors came to New Zealand in the past year, a seven per cent increase on the previous 12 months. These visitors spent a total of $8.7 billion.
Tourism is our second-largest export earner and is directly responsible for 94,100 jobs, so the fact that the industry is strong and continuing to grow means a boost to the economy, creating more jobs and opportunities for New Zealanders.
Locally, we can see some of this activity reflected in the cruise ships that stop at Pilot Bay. The Cruise New Zealand summary report for the 2014-15 season shows that $35 million was added to the Bay of Plenty economy. This is forecast to increase about 15 per cent over the next two years to more than $40 million.
We are also doing a better job of keeping passengers in the Bay and spending their money in local stores, rather than travelling out of the region.
In the coming season 78 ships are expected in Tauranga, bringing a total of 166,700 passengers.
Tourism is another example of an industry the Government is supporting to build a more competitive and productive economy.
The Government has already invested an unprecedented $600 million in tourism and tourism marketing as part of our plan to promote New Zealand as a world-class destination.
These latest results show our investment is paying off.