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Nicola Greenwell

Waipā’s Covid bounce back has begun with domestic tourism credit card spending and visitor night stays above the New Zealand average and the best in the Waikato.

Figures released by Hamilton and Waikato Tourism this week show an injection of $131 million last year into the local economy through an eight per cent increase in electronic spending over 2020 and ahead of pre-Covid 2019’s $129 million.

The district’s 318 Air BnB providers were the big recipient of ‘bed nights’ in the district with 47 per cent occupancy rates.

Across all accommodation, including Air BnB, hotels and motels, occupancy rates were at 38 per cent, tourism interim chief executive Nicola Greenwell told the council’s Finance and Corporate committee.

Waipā had 149,143 guest nights; 16.5 per cent of the Waikato total.

“While Waikato is doing okay as a region, Waipā pips that and is growing and doing really well out of our six districts.”

Liz Stolwyk

Liz Stolwyk

The figures came as no surprise to deputy mayor Liz Stolwyk who manages the council’s Mighty River Domain at Lake Karāpiro.

“I’m hearing now and I’m experiencing personally with bookings, we are busy. We’re really starting to see lots of pick up now with conferencing and events. I think we are going to see a very good upcoming summer season,” she said.

Holding most operators back currently are the numbers impacted by Omicron.

“It will be a battle for a little while,” said Greenwell. Some operators had downsized or not replaced team members and now was the time to be replacing, recruiting, and getting ready to be “match fit” for when the borders reopen.

Waipā, Hamilton, Matamata-Piako, Ōtorohanga, Waikato and Waitomo territorial authorities fund Hamilton and Waikato Tourism to promote Waikato domestically and internationally.

Last year the region hosted 12,701 delegates as part of 128 business events.

“With Australian visitors now able to arrive just before Easter, and visitors from all other visa waiver countries from 11.59pm on May 1, the border re-opening is fantastic news,” said Greenwell.

“Visitors will likely begin filtering through, rather than arrive in an immediate rush so we still need New Zealanders to travel domestically.”

One of Waipā’s biggest attractions is the Te Awa River Ride.

“This is a great local experience with some stunning scenery to discover,” she said.

The Waipā section goes from the newly-opened Hooker Road to Cambridge Velodrome and then continues through to Lake Karāpiro.

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