There are two reasons to welcome visitors to Hawke’s Bay — leaving aside for the moment the debate over whether they stay at Cape Kidnappers or in a camper van.

1. They spend money.

2. They tell positive stories about their experience here when they go home, spreading the allure of Hawke’s Bay.

This chart (from HB Tourism report to HBRC) shows everything you need to know about visitor spend in Hawke’s Bay, year-t0-date, and compares that to the two previous years.

Most obvious is the coronavirus nose dive, down to about $5m in April from $50m+ in the previous years, which cost our hospitality businesses dearly. They can only be ‘thankful’ that the virus impacted after our peak December/January visitor months.

But you can also see that since ‘the dive’, visitor spend in our region is recovering strongly and indeed currently outperforming the previous years.

How much of this recovery is ‘natural’ as domestic travellers fled their lockdowns spontaneously and how much can be credited to HB Tourism’s well-conceived (and Government-boosted to the tune of $700k) Baycation campaign is hard to tell. I suspect every regional tourism authority is showing its regional council a graph similar to the one above.

Soon we will be able to see the impact of having no cruise ships visit Napier Port this season. When it comes to visitor spend, will we notice a difference from previous years — there are two schools of thought on that one! Stay tuned.

For now, though, we can all celebrate the direction of the spending curve!

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