I anticipate a number of key international and domestic economic changes which all organisations in the region, including the public sector, will need to continue to take into account in their longer-term planning and policy work. These changes include demographic shifts, increasing tourism, and different challenges from economic growth.
With continuing population increase, important shifts will occur including the ongoing aging of our population, significant growth in the Maori and Pacific People’s population and the greater concentration of New Zealand ‘s population in the northern half of the North Island. The overall age 65+ population in NZ will grow from 12% to 21% by 2031. In Hawke’s Bay, while the total population grows only 4% by 2016, the Maori population will grow 10% and the Pacific People’s population by 37%.
These trends will be noted by many organisations working in our community, including the health, housing, retirement, education, social welfare and business sectors. The aging population has been one of the main factors driving increased dwelling demand in our communities, particularly for specialist retirement and elder care accommodation, and the physical and social services accompanying this demand. The education sector in the region will need to respond in appropriate ways to the specific learning needs of the growing Maori and Pacific People’s student population. Businesses will need to address to a greater extent the issues surrounding the general aging of the regional workforce and business owners. Local governments in Hawke’s Bay will need to investigate and pursue creative ways of attracting younger population segments to the region, in order to maintain a population balance in the area.
Tourism growth to the region, particularly from the international visitor sector, will continue. Overseas tourism numbers to Hawke’s Bay are forecast to increase by over 20% during the next five years. Whilst domestic New Zealand visitors will continue to provide the underpinning for the tourism sector in the region (and should continue to be serviced in a high-quality manner), there will be a need for greater attention to be given to attracting and servicing the overseas visitor market. The region has made good progress in this respect in recent years and has lifted its profile internationally via such avenues as Art Deco, cruise ship visits, the food and wine industry, and international sports events and venues.
Hawke’s Bay needs to build on this base in the future. More targeted marketing, increased tourism product and higher service standards will be important elements of this. A closer link between the region’s attractive physical environment and tourism offerings will also be needed.
Economic growth prospects
Following a prolonged period (since around Year 2000) of relatively strong economic growth in Hawke’s Bay, the current forecasts are for a generally slower pace of growth over the next five years or so. Enterprises in the region producing mainly for the local market will need to be aware of this situation and make the necessary adjustments, including a greater focus on operational efficiencies, increased product and service marketing, and exploration of new markets both within and outside Hawke’s Bay. Potential new business markets also include those connected with the environment, such as addressing the impacts of climate change, alternative sustainable energy sources, reducing carbon emissions and minimizing the adverse impacts of the agricultural sector on the environment.
Those regional businesses producing for the international market should note the forecast strong growth for Asian countries such as China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. Hawke’s Bay businesses should seek to better exploit the emerging market opportunities associated with the growing global awareness and interest in the quality of the physical environments within which we live and do business.