The tourism industry is Rotorua’s largest employer and the highest contributor to Rotorua’s GDP
The main economic contributors to the tourism industry are accommodation providers, cafés, restaurants and bars, visitor experiences, and retailers.
Although Rotorua is one of New Zealand’s most-visited cities, it’s crucial for us to increase the commercial value the visitor market brings to the city. We continue to investigate the barriers and opportunities for tourism growth in Rotorua, and have set a goal to achieve a $1 billion visitor spend by 2030.
Working in partnership with the local tourism industry, as well as related businesses such as Air New Zealand, Tourism New Zealand, Auckland International Airport, and Rotorua Airport, we promote Rotorua as a premier destination. In addition, we work with key stakeholders to identify investment opportunities and develop product offerings that will attract high-value visitors – those who stay longer, seek out premium experiences and enjoy luxury accommodation.
Rotorua developed New Zealand’s first sustainable tourism charter in 1998 and there are many leading sustainable visitor attractions within our economy. The Rotorua Sustainable Charter has now broadened its focus to work with all businesses to support their sustainability journeys and to ensure that the environment they operate in is sustained for generations to come.
Rotorua tourism research and statistics are available for reference.
Work undertaken in the past year has enabled us to develop project plans for several opportunities in the tourism sector.
Adventure & nature tourism
Rotorua has significant unrealised potential as an adventure sports and nature tourism mecca.
Opportunities exist to grow green tourism and adventure tourism by making use of Rotorua’s natural environment (bush, plantation forest, lakes and rivers), targeting mountain bikers, backpackers, walkers, hunters and fishers.
Te Ara Ahi cycle trail attracts active domestic and international visitors to Rotorua. In addition, gaining the New Zealand Mountain Biking Centre of Excellence designation will support the city’s reputation as a premium mountain biking area.
Rotorua’s marketing efforts in Sydney is contributing to the growth of our Australian conference market which seeks high-end accommodation, trusted international hotel chains, and large-scale conferences and support services. Our high-end offering has been helped by the opening in late 2019 of Rotorua’s first five-star hotel, Pullman Rotorua. While this adds to Rotorua’s existing Accor family of accommodation options, there’s still opportunity for additional five-star and luxury accommodation and services to support the high-end business travellers’ market.
Spa & wellness
A massive growth area worldwide is the beauty and wellness industry, including spa, beauty and wellness tourism attractions.
The health and wellness industry is estimated at US$1.9 trillion and with global changes in the ageing population, demographics and health costs, this industry will continue to grow. Opportunities exist to develop specialist facilities, particularly with strong cultural influences, to target wider market segments and establish Rotorua as a globally recognised destination for health and wellness for domestic and international visitors alike.
The opportunities for iwi are considerable through land ownership, resource access, capital investment, business ownership and job creation across many levels.
Rotorua is the home of the New Zealand Mountain Biking Centre of Excellence. Our well established and internationally recognised network of cycle trails continue to rank highly worldwide as a premier mountain biking destination, and the list of international mountain biking competition organisers seeking to bring their events to Rotorua grows yearly.
Cycling aligns to the green tourism trend, and some experts expect a three- to four-fold increase in cycle tourism over the next decade. Being centrally located means we’re easy to access for anyone in the Bay of Plenty, Waikato or Auckland, so we expect more and more New Zealanders to embrace the mountain-biking mecca on their doorstep.