With the Government, every tourism-dependent business and every regional tourism body – like our Hawke’s Bay Tourism – pleading with Kiwis to travel domestically over the last year, did we get off our couches … and if so, where did we go?

Well, according to a Government (MBIE) measure based on credit card transactions*, we did, and Hawke’s Bay attracted its fair share.

Nationwide, domestic visitor spending was up 30% looking at the past year through June.

For Hawke’s Bay the increase was 36% – about $109m more than the previous year, for a total spend of $411m. One measure of performance for the team at HB Tourism is beating the average … and they did. Similarly, the decline in international spending nationwide was -69%, whereas in Hawke’s Bay (at $21m spent) the decline was -58% (or -$29m).

So overall, Hawke’s Bay ‘netted’ a spending gain of about $80m for the year.

Looking across the nation, the pattern seems clear – in a relative sense Kiwis ‘fled’ the two big cities and headed to the countryside. Domestic spending was up ‘only’ 14% in Auckland and 24% in Wellington.

The big beneficiaries were South Island destinations, where growth in domestic visitor spending reached 60% in West Coast, 57% in Tasman, and 51% in both Otago and Marlborough. Keeping in mind that the absolute dollar amounts were lower. However, these southern destinations were hardest hit by the decline in spending by international visitors – down a whopping 92% in West Coast, 85% in Otago and 82% in Southland.

In the media release reporting their good news, HB Tourism was gracious:

“We … have to thank Hawke’s Bay Regional Council for their abiding funding and political support; Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for their strategic tourism protection funding; the Board and members of the Hawke’s Bay Tourism Industry Association for their investment and support; our region’s city and district councils for their support and encouragement; national and regional tourism organisations we partner with; and we would like to thank all of the visitors who have experienced the region for the first time – and those who have returned.”

But clearly kudos are due also to the inventive and industrious HB Tourism team.

Gains aside, HBT chief executive Hamish Saxton, calling the year “entirely unorthodox”, also noted the downside:  “However, not all tourism-related businesses have benefitted from the increase in domestic tourism and many, whose businesses targeted international consumers and cruise passengers, have been forced to hibernate or reinvent themselves.”

So, good news, but a heap of pain as well.

* TECTS (Tourism Electronic Card Transactions) represent tourism spend based almost exclusively on physical electronic card transactions, and do not include any other form of spending such as cash, pre-purchases or online spend.

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