A call for the city council to get a better grip on tourism management is being made by Tourism Bay of Plenty CEO Kristin Dunne.
“We will have 100,000 more visitors coming through the port next season,” says Kristin. “We are going from 83 ships to 113 - so the growth in tourism is happening in spite of us, and we need to get in front and manage it, or it is going to start managing us.
“Other regions are really suffering. It's not a positon that I want us to get into.”
She's commenting at Wednesday's meeting of the City Transformation Committee on the draft Tauranga Urban Strategy, which is going for public consultation on how the ratepayers will deal with the issues arising from a fast changing city.
“We are really excited about having a master plan we can be contributing towards,” says Kristin. “As you know we have built our own plan to meet the aspirations of the city. And I think what is critical for us from a tourism perspective is to have those insights that we are missing.
“On any given day we can double the population in certain areas of the city and at any given time of the year and I don't think at the moment that we are adequately planning for that influx of growth, because we simply don't understand what it is.
“We don't know how many people are here why are they here, what more they would like to see.” That insight is critical for tourism Bay of Plenty being able to contribute to the plan in any really meaningful way.
“We understand that amenity can be for both visitors and residents alike, but what are the visitors calling for as well as what the residents are calling for.
We are wanting Tauranga to be an internationally competitive city and that means we have a lot of international visitors coming here. Clearly the biggest barrier to that at the moment is hotels.
And I'm pretty sure when we get the data through on the number of visitors here we'll be able to improve our business cases much more effectively on how many people are visiting museums, how much they are prepared to pay - all those questions we think we know the answer to, but we don't really, is fundamental I think to making this successful.
“It would be great to do a bit more place making work and what's our story so these developments don't just happen from a developmental and infrastructure perspective, but they are happening to create a place and tell a story. We have got some building blocks for that already but I think we could pick up on and use, make sure that the cultural heart of this isn't lost as well.”
The cruise ship tourists spending is $60m, says Kristin. Second to Auckland but much higher than any of the other ports.
“What would be great to see along with that spend is how many people, where are they coming from, and who do we want to actively target going forward. To run a sector without understanding that information is not effective.”
Tourism spending for Bay of Plenty is $1.8 billion for the year ended November 2017, according to MBIE figures. Tourists spent $154 million in the Bay of Plenty in November 2017, a month to month growth of 10 per cent.
The annual spending in Tauranga by tourists is $762m.
Committee chairman Larry Baldock says it highlights the need for the city council to progress the new visitor centre and I-port at Mount Maunganui.