19 May 2020

A new report on the impacts of COVID-19 on the Bay of Plenty economy pinpoints the areas where the region is set to be hit hardest – but also highlights some of the reasons the region may not be as severely impacted as other parts of New Zealand.

The Infometrics report, commissioned by Bay of Plenty Regional Council, explores the expected economic impacts for the region, as well as outlining the areas where effort and resources should be focused to mitigate the impact and set the region up for the future.

Regional Council Chair, Doug Leeder says when compared to other areas of New Zealand, the impact on Bay of Plenty may not be as significant as originally anticipated, partly due to the prevalence of the agriculture, horticulture and export sectors.

“However, the report also makes clear that some parts of our rohe, such as Rotorua, face a much greater impact because of the strong focus on the tourism sector," Mr Leeder said.

Other local councils and EDAs have also commissioned reports specific to their areas.

“All of this data and insight will help our councils, industry bodies, iwi and other organisations to build effective recovery programmes based on a shared understanding of where the greatest impacts, more jobs and opportunities for success will be," Mr Leeder said.

According to the Infometrics report, Bay of Plenty’s GDP is forecast to contract by 7.3 per cent to March 2021, compared with an expected 8.0 per cent contraction in the national economy. As a whole, the region’s unemployment rate is also expected to be slightly lower than the national average, while residential and non-residential construction is forecast to slow slightly less than the rest of the country.

Mr Leeder says the report still paints a frank and stark picture and may make hard reading as it discusses the possible implications of the economic downturn for some industries.

“Although in some instances the outlook for our region is more positive than elsewhere, many of the findings reflect what we’re already hearing nationally: forecast reductions over the coming year in GDP, workforce and business earnings. And likely hard hit sectors such as international tourism and hospitality services.

“It is important to remember that a downturn means lost jobs and the personal impact of that can’t be measured in these sorts of statistics.

“The value of a report like this is that it provides insight into where we should be focussing our energy and resources to cushion the economic blow for our local communities. As always, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it and this will help us gain better insights so we can work towards a robust and sustainable recovery accordingly,” Mr Leeder said.

The Chair reiterated that councils, industries, EDAs, iwi authorities and other agencies were all focused on strong recovery planning, and the challenges and opportunities in each district, industry and community will be different.

“Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council and its regional development group, Bay of Connections, will continue to focus on region-wide recovery – providing a voice for long-term sustainability and the environment throughout the recovery process.

“We will continue to support local and district councils with their identified projects and priorities, and to connect the dots across the region, making the most of our joint competitive advantages.

“We’re already working with wide range of very motivated partner organisations to ensure that the Bay of Plenty leads the way in choosing to do things differently. We have a unique opportunity to achieve growth across social, cultural, environmental and economic measures and, as a region, we can choose to build a sustainable, low-carbon and environmentally conscious recovery.

“These reports help to build a deeper understanding of the challenges we face and a baseline on which to plan our strong regional economic recovery,” Mr Leeder said.