New cruise hub in Tauranga will support visitor growth

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Shanes Jones in Tauranga: Likely boost for visitor numbers. Photo/Supplied.

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF)’s nearly $1 million commitment to the Te Tomokanga (Archway), Tauranga’s new cruise hub and visitor welcome centre, will help get the project over the line.

Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said she was thrilled by the funding result, announced by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones in Tauranga recently.

“Years of planning and collaboration between Tauranga City Council, Tourism Bay of Plenty, the community and Ngai te Rangi culminated in reaching this funding target,” said Dunne.

“We look forward to working with the council on this great new large, weather-proof centre.”

The additional funding will allow for the design of a space that facilitates pōwhiri, has a community area, and tells the region’s unique cultural stories.

The funding adds to $4 million that Tauranga City Council had already earmarked for the centre, which will replace the temporary infrastructure that currently welcomes cruise ship visitors.

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless said that the funding was great news for Tauranga. 

“A new cruise gateway and visitor welcome centre will serve both cruise ship passengers and the general tourist market,” he said.

“Tourism is good for our local and regional economy and I’m pleased that Government has made a contribution to the cost of facilities.”  

The Bay of Plenty’s tourism visitor spend is expected to increase by 60 per cent over the next decade, reaching $1.45 billion by 2028.

The Cruise Hub would support the Bay of Plenty’s goal of creating 4000 new jobs in tourism, said Jones.

The Hub will primarily cater to cruise ship passengers, but will assist visitors to Mt Maunganui arriving by car, and local residents. 

It will feature an i-Site and covered areas that will allow a range of uses including markets and concerts, and will replace an inadequate temporary structure currently used to process cruise ship passengers. 

Thirty four people will be employed in Te Tomokanga.

“Roughly half of all cruise passengers also visit Rotorua, Whakatāne and Hobbiton, so providing a fit-for-purpose gateway, which provides links to the rest of the region will help the Bay take an important step in its tourism industry,” said Jones.

The new hub is expected to drive a 35 per cent increase in cruise ship numbers, boosting the amount spent by visitors, he said.

Last season, the local economy benefited by about $91 million from the 223,000 cruise ship passengers who visited, said Jones. 

The Bay of Plenty’s tourism visitor spend is expected to increase by 60 per cent over the next decade, reaching $1.45 billion by 2028.

Quality accommodation in demand

Questioned on the availability of accommodation for visitors to the Bay, Tourism BOP spokesperson Kath Low said the available data was not comprehensive.

The primary source, the Commercial Accommodation Monitor, tracks commercial accommodation and relies on those accommodation providers to confidentially submit data, which then allows MBIE to gather New Zealand insights. 

However, not all of the accommodation providers in the BOP do this. And while it provides a measure of commercial accommodation, there is a mammoth gap in terms of private accommodation/airBnB/bookabach etc.

Based on the data provided, the estimated breakdown of annual commercial accommodation breakdown suggests):

•  13 percent stay in hotels

•  36 percent stay in motels

•  13 percent stay in backpackers

•  37 percent stay in holiday parks

“We know, through the enquiries we field daily within Tourism BOP, that there is interest in quality accommodation in Tauranga,” said Low.

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David Porter

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