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Bay of Plenty tourism industry works to mitigate impact of visitor downturn following White Island eruption

Bay of Plenty tourism industry works to mitigate impact of visitor downturn following White Island eruption
February 29, 2020

In the wake of drastically lower visitor numbers since the White Island tragedy of December last year, mitigating the ongoing economic impact for local business and supporting the area’s tourism sector is at the forefront of Whakatane District tourism activities.

Whakatane District Council, New Zealand's Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Tourism Bay of Plenty are working together behind the scenes, as part of the wider recovery project, to move forward an enhanced marketing campaign to highlight the range of visitor experiences on offer throughout the District.

Local businesses immediately impacted following the eruption are currently working through the process of applying for a portion of the emergency fund announced by the New Zealand Government late last year.

However, with the shoulder seasons usually the busiest months for international visitors, the full impact to the District’s economy is yet to be felt, with visitor spend spread across many sectors of the economy including retail, hospitality, transport as well as tourism operators and accommodation.

Advising that boosting tourism marketing for both domestic and international visitors will help mitigate potential financial losses through the shoulder seasons, Whakatane District Council Tourism and Events Manager Nicola Burgess stated "details of our marketing plan are being finalised with MBIE and it will unlock some of the emergency funding announced by MBIE in December.

“We’re immensely grateful to MBIE for their support and see boosting our business as usual marketing activities, especially to a domestic audience, as a short to medium-term way of encouraging more visitors and recouping the drop in international visitors."

With the domestic market accounting for 80% of visitors to the Whakatane District, with $119 million spent annually, Burgess says marketing activities will initially focus on growing this market, adding "while we see growing our domestic visitors as the best quick-win, bringing international visitors back is also important but will take more time.

“Whakaari/White Island was by-in-large the most popular international visitor attraction for us, so alongside Tourism Bay of Plenty, we have a lot of work to do to get those international visitors back."

Whakatane District Mayor Judy Turner says while there is a lot of work to be done, there are some exciting opportunities in the local tourism sector.

Mayor Turner noted "one heartening story that has come from international visitors since the Whakaari tragedy is that they are pleasantly surprised with the range of other visitor experiences here. We need to capitalise on this and shine a light on all the other wonderful things to do here throughout most months of the year.”

Increasing tourism marketing activities for the District forms part the wider Whakaari/White Island economic recovery project, with Whakatane District Council working alongside partners, Te Runanga o Ngati Awa, EBOP Chamber of Commerce and Toi EDA.

Image courtesy of Tourism New Zealand.

Related Articles

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24th December 2019 - Authorities end search for remaining bodies missing after White Island volcanic eruption

13th December 2019 - New Zealand troops to recover bodies on White Island volcano

10th December 2019 - Tourist excursions to White Island were a ‘disaster waiting to happen’

9th December 2019 - Eruption at New Zealand’s White Island volcano leads to deaths and injuries

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