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Retail revitalisation well-advanced

Whakatane CBD. File photo

A joint Chamber of Commerce and Whakatāne District Council review of the revitalisation strategy for retail areas in Whakatāne has found strategy priorities are generally well-advanced. 

Chamber Chief Executive Ged Casey says after discussing the retail strategy – developed in 2015 – with Council staff, it appears that of the actions the Council could contribute to, a large proportion had either been completed, or are in progress. 

Further discussion is planned to review remaining actions and decide whether they are still topical. The Chamber is hosting a meeting to discuss the retail environment next week, to provide an opportunity for chamber members, retailers and interested members of the public to contribute to the discussion. 

Ged says the Chamber is looking to better-coordinate the retail sector, to ensure that individual businesses take advantage of tourism activities and reinvest in continually improving the visitor experience. 

The Chamber also understands that there is an economic benefit of events to the district which should be recognised alongside the social benefits. 

“The Council’s Business Development team is also making good progress in the development of a destination marketing approach built around White Island/Whakaari, and the work underway with Tourism Bay of Plenty is also designed to promote the development of more experiences to keep visitors in the area for longer,” he says.

”Those longer-term initiatives can’t be achieved overnight, and it’s encouraging to know that there is a strategy in place to bring all of these pieces together, through projects like the main wharf renewal.”

Council Strategy and Economic Development General Manager Julie Gardyne says it’s unfortunate that some of the information in an opinion piece in last Friday’s Whakatane Beacon was inaccurate. 

“For most businesses, the additional tourism promotion funding of $150,000 sought through the Long Term Plan would see their District Growth levy increase by around $50 a year,” she says. 

“The increased investment involved will address the priorities highlighted by both the business sector and the wider community and will allow a number of key initiatives to be put in place or expanded.” 

Julie says a particularly encouraging aspect of Statistics NZ’s accommodation monitoring over the past two years is the average visitor stay in the District is steadily increasing.

“That’s great news, because the longer people stay in the District, the more they will spend on a whole range of activities,” she continues.

“That also says the efforts of the business sector – and our work promoting the opportunities they are creating – are bearing fruit. If the additional funding sought is confirmed in the final LTP, we would certainly expect to see those positive visitor trends continue to grow.” 

Those interested in discussing the further revitalisation of Whakatane’s retail environments are invited to the breakfast meeting being held on Tuesday 20 March. Please RSVP to info@ebopchamber.co.nz 

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