Boosts for BOP accommodation

Matt young and Sarah Meadows renovating Harbourside City Backpackers.

Tauranga accommodation providers are reporting an increase in visitor numbers of up to 19 per cent compared to last year.

Papamoa Beach Resort director Bruce Crosby says over June, visitor numbers were up 19 per cent compared to last year, and numbers during July’s school holiday have also increased.

“So far, bookings going into August are a bit lower than last year, but not disastrous by any means,” says Bruce.

“We’re in a good position, because even before COVID-19 more than 80 per cent of our visitors were domestic.

“However, people have been going out of their way to support us. As soon as we opened, one of our regular couples from Auckland booked an eight-day stay with us. We’re very grateful.”

Waihi Beach has also seen an increase. Waihi Beach Paradise Resort owner Peter West says bookings are pouring in and they’ve had to turn people away.

Waihi Beach Top 10 Holiday Park owner Ian Smith says occupancy is up six per cent and revenue has doubled on the same period last year.

“Campgrounds along the Bay of Plenty coastline are the economic backbone for many communities, with our campground alone contributing $10 million in visitor revenue each year,” says Ian.

“Kiwis are spending money at home, and provided they receive good service and value, I think the trend is set to continue.”

Some accommodation providers are still seeing a decline in visitors, like Harbourside City Backpackers whose market is 70 per cent international travellers.

But, owners Sarah Meadows and Matt Young are looking on the bright side – the lull in business has created the perfect time to close, and complete their pre-planned renovation and rebrand to Wanderlust NZ.

“We started our renovation in January, and it’s obviously been a bit delayed,” says Sarah.

“As well as the earthquake strengthening work and alterations we’d already planned, we’re now tailoring the renovation so it appeals more to domestic travellers.

“This includes adding 42 beds – bringing the total to 114 – and constructing a special group area for up to 30 guests with stunning harbour views.

“By adding more beds into our establishment, we hope it will bring more people into the city centre, which businesses are desperate for.”

Sarah and Matt aren’t the only ones using the post-COVID period to renovate. Mount Maunganui Beachside Holiday Park is adding more self-contained units and Hotel Armitage is upgrading its rooms and conference centre.

“Until the borders re-open and we see more international visitors, we have to do things a bit differently,” says Sarah.

“It’s a good time to renovate, and work to grow our New Zealand customer base.”

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