Cashing in on Lions
More tourist dollars are flowing into the region, with Lions rugby supporters providing a welcome boon.
The latest monthly estimates for Manawatu-Whanganui from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show that tourists spent about $951 million for the year to June 2017.
That’s up 7 per cent compared with the year to June 2016.
The ministry’s Mark Gordon said international tourists to the region spent $172 million – up 9 per cent compared with the previous year.
Domestic tourists spent $779 million – a 6 per cent increase over the same period. For June 2017, the month of the Lions tour, the region’s tourist spend was up 6 per cent on June 2016.
However, the Palmerston North City Council’s economic policy advisor Peter Crawford said interpreting the local authority data from the ministry presented some challenges, as it was only published on a rolling 12-month basis.
‘‘We do not see the data for the individual months,’’ Crawford said.
‘‘That means we have to infer the impact of the Lions tour by comparing the total for the 12 months ended May and the total for the 12 months ended June.’’
Crawford said the data suggests spending from TUK visitors increased by $300,000 in Palmerston North during June 2017, compared with June 2016.
A breakdown of the data shows Palmerston North’s food and beverage sector experienced a $900,000 increase in turnover between May and June, while other retail spending dropped by $600,000.
‘‘Interestingly, the data shows an increase of $500,000 in the month from visitors from the USA,’’ Crawford said.
Marian McMurray, a former president of the Manawatu Motel Association, said a straw poll among accommodation providers came to the conclusion that cafes and the New Zealand Rugby Museum were the chief local beneficiaries of the Lions tour, while local moteliers missed out.
‘‘There were plenty of campervans and lots of red jerseys, but we didn’t see much of it,’’ McMurray said.
Central Economic Development Agency chief executive Linda Stewart said feedback she received about local efforts to make Lions supporters visit and stay in the region was largely positive.
Lions supporter Maria Teresa Perry checks out a display at the New Zealand Rugby Museum.