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Tourism Official: Hurunui Tourism Industry Spend Increased, But Situation Not Good

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The tourism industry in North Canterbury‘s Hurunui district (New Zealand) has seen an increase in the past year. It has even surpassed levels pre-COVID, despite the pandemic’s impact on the broader sector.

However, local tourism officials believe that the burden of COVID-19 restrictions under the traffic light system will soon begin to take its toll.

According to a report, a total expenditure of NZ$120 million was recorded in the district for the year to November 2021, which is an increase of almost 10% over figures reported in February 2020.

The number was also up in November 2020 by 15%, according to Marketview figures.

Hurunui Tourism Board Chair Geoff Shier said that the region had been performing well compared to other areas of the country.

“We are fortunate here in the Hurunui to be an hour and a half away from a major city,” Shier said.

“It’s actually been quite busy, accommodation levels have been good, restaurant support has been good. So we’ve been in quite a fortunate situation, of course, that is all domestic, with visitors coming from Auckland and the North Island,” Shier added.

Shier noted that the district’s visitor composition even before the pandemic was predominantly domestic, with just 20% of tourists visiting the region coming from offshore.

But things were beginning to slow down under the red setting, Shier declared.

“It’s different now compared to before we went into this latest round of restrictions.

“Things under the red light have really dropped away,” he said.

Due to limitations, Hanmer Springs Thermal Pool and Spa, the district’s top economic attraction, only attracted between a third and half of visitors during the Waitangi weekend.

“Numbers are well down, the situation is not good.”

Nearly a million dollars of relief from the government was provided to the Hurunui district’s tourism industry over the past two years.

No indication had been made of further support, Shier said.

This week, the Hurunui Tourism Board approved marketing budgets for the coming financial year to help the local sector recover from COVID-19 and help develop sustainable tourism in the area.

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