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International visitors return to Bay of Plenty, businesses look forward to summer

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Putin mobilizing reserves, mood in boardroom, NZ 5.8 earthquake, new mega national broadcaster, slow recovery in tourism sector.Video / NZ Herald

An unexpectedly long weekend kept many in the Bay of Plenty busy, with tourists flocking to the beaches to enjoy the sun.

Business owners say numbers of international tourists are returning to the area, promising a great summer ahead.

Emily Gillette, owner of Hugo and Carters Backpackers and Motel, said the long weekend made her feel like the last two years of hard work had paid off.

“It is very busy with national and international visitors. It is a pleasant surprise that it is fully booked every night.”

Gillette, who launched Hugo and Carters Backpackers and Motels in 2019, said the past two years have felt like “riding a storm.”

“I am very happy to say that I am totally optimistic for the summer.

Hugo and Carters Backpackers and Motel owner Emily Gillette (right) with guest Anna Nestrojlova from the Czech Republic.photo/courtesy

“Oh my God, we caught a storm.”

Gillette said most of the international guests were in the Bay of Plenty on business.

Minjung Woo from South Korea has been in Mount Maunganui for a week “to travel and find work.”

“We went to the beach every day. I really enjoy the beach and watching people surf,” Wu told the Bay of Plenty Times.

Wu said she wanted to learn to surf and her favorite restaurant was Master Kong.

“[My friends and I] Make the most of your time there. “

House of Surf co-owner Rowan Clifford said the last three weekends were the first weekends he felt “back to normal.”

“We are really litmus test. When we got down to the beach, there were so many people around us.”

Clifford said he runs a two-day intensive surfing course over the weekend and many of his students are from Auckland.

“It’s been a really cool, great weekend,” Clifford told the Bay of Plenty Times.

“There were a lot of people on the beach, they were having barbecues, they were speaking a lot of different languages, a lot of European accents.

“It felt like summer had arrived.”

Rowan Clifford, co-owner of House of Surf.photo/courtesy
Rowan Clifford, co-owner of House of Surf.photo/courtesy

Mount Backpackers’ Rob Veale said business was picking up before the holidays were announced.

“A lot of travelers from overseas have started to come in and arrive earlier than usual.

“I think things will turn around.”

Veale said the promise of a return to the cruise ship industry also bodes well for business.

“The hospitality industry is very vibrant and they are always looking for workers, which means backpackers come and stay with us.”

Tearriffic’s owner Chris Senerpida said his bubble tea truck opened this weekend on Rotorua’s lakefront.

“It was really busy. There were a lot of people by the lake, a lot of families out and a gypsy fair there.”

Senerpida said there had been a “definite” increase in visitors and tourists to Rotorua over the past three days.

“Slowly tourists are coming. You can tell by their accent. Somehow things are getting back to normal.”

Tony Bullot is Chairman of the Bay of Plenty, the accommodation arm of Hospitality NZ, and owner of 850 Cameron Motel in Tauranga. Photo/NZME
Tony Bullot is Chairman of the Bay of Plenty, the accommodation arm of Hospitality NZ, and owner of 850 Cameron Motel in Tauranga. Photo/NZME

Tony Blott – Chairman of Hospitality NZ’s Bay of Plenty accommodation sector and owner of Tauranga’s 850 Cameron Motel – was optimistic about the summer.

“We’re getting more bookings for the summer than we’ve had in the last two years,” Bullot said. “He seems more confident about making plans for summer again than nervously waiting until the last minute.”

He said after several years of restrictions, many events and festivals have returned to help the lodging industry as well.

“We look forward to filling Tauranga with happy attendees enjoying all that the Bay of Plenty has to offer.”

Matt Cowley, CEO of the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce.Photography/ Meade Norton
Matt Cowley, CEO of the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce.Photography/ Meade Norton

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce CEO Matt Cowley said operators and businesses are gearing up for a long, hot summer where “sea temperatures feel like the Gold Coast.”

“Then more kiwis will extend or take a second summer vacation in February and March,” says Cowley.

“More people staying active for longer is perfect for pushing the summer demand peak into the second half of the summer.”

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Cowley said there’s something on the bay every weekend until Easter, and many entertainment venues and hospitality businesses have opened since last summer.

Tauranga’s proximity to other attractions, such as mountain bike trails, and the revival of the cruise industry also mean more visitors in the coming months.

“Hopefully the various roadworks around our city are going well, so we won’t be bogged down with road cones and lollipop signs all summer long.”

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