SunLive         

Tauranga is getting a Cruise Gateway and Welcome Hub fitting of the city’s status as a must see destination, thanks to assistance from the Provincial Growth Fund. Last week the Minister for Regional Economic Development Shane Jones announced the PGF will invest $980,000 in the project, which is expected to increase cruise ship visitor numbers by 35 per cent, which equates to more than 240,000 visitors received. I have personally been working alongside Tauranga City Council, Tourism Bay of Plenty and Priority One to ensure we were able to secure this investment.

Tauranga is one of New Zealand’s most beautiful locations, and tourists are taking note. We want to make sure every visitor is returning home saying that Tauranga is a must see.

Tauranga was named one of the top five cruise destinations in Australasia in 2018, and visitor numbers are steadily increasing every year. On top of this the cruise industry’s boom is expected to continue, in the 2018 year passenger numbers were up by over six per cent, to over 28 million passengers worldwide.

We need our infrastructure to be prepared for growth in order to capitalise on this interest and to reap the rewards that a thriving tourism industry offers, such as job opportunities and tourist dollars. Cruise ship passengers alone contributed about $91 million to the local economy in the last season.

This hub is not just focused on cruise ship tourism, it will also be useful for other visitors through the inclusion of an i-site. It will be significant for Tauranga as the gateway to the Bay of Plenty, including Rotorua, Whakatāne, Hobbiton, and the Waikato. I look forward to seeing work get underway to unlock Tauranga’s potential.

Clayton Mitchell
New Zealand First MP