Economic recovery a mixed bag for Coast
According to the latest data from Infometrics, economic activity on the Coast for the September 2020 quarter was down just 0.4% compared to September 2019. The nation as a whole saw a decline of 3.2%.
The economic impact of COVID has been felt in vastly different ways across the region. Comparing the September 2020 quarter versus the September 2019 quarter, Buller District had the highest growth rate in New Zealand at 7.9%, while Grey District saw a decline of 3.6%. Westland District, which has been particularly hard hit by the loss of international visitors, experienced a 5.6% decrease in GDP.
A resurgence in domestic tourism has benefited the West Coast to a degree, particularly in Buller. MBIE’s regional tourism spending estimates show that domestic visitor spending on the West Coast was up by 54% ($26m) in the September quarter compared to last year. This nearly offset the loss of international visitors, who spent $27m in the region during the September 2019 quarter.
While it has been promising to see the West Coast lead New Zealand in growth for domestic visitor spend, we remain very cautious about the upcoming summer season.
International visitors spent $72m in the December 2019 quarter and $119m in the March 2019 quarter, so even if the extra domestic spend is sustained throughout summer, it will unlikely replace international visitor spending.
Our tourism team remains committed to driving visitor demand and will be running an extensive domestic campaign starting next week through to February.
For the year to September 2020, the number of Jobseeker support recipients has continued to rise, with an additional 408 recipients on the West Coast over the past year. This is a 17.7% increase, below the national rate of 27.3%.
While the number of Jobseeker support recipients is starting to fall, we cannot become complacent as the full extent of the economic shock of COVID is still to play out. It is vital we continue to support one another and leverage available opportunities.
We encourage any businesses impacted by COVID to contact the team at DWC, and for businesses to tap into the different employment and training initiatives that are currently available such as DWC’s Upskill programme, the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, MSD’s Mana in Mahi and MBIE’s Regional Apprenticeships Initiative.
At DWC we are continuing to look at wider opportunities for the region. Alongside the West Coast Regional Council, Department of Conservation and Iwi, we have formed the Kotahitanga kit e Uru Regional Alliance.
The Alliance has been established to initiate, support and drive West Coast initiatives and secure central government funding to support the economic recovery and mitigate the social and economic impacts of COVID.
Heath Milne | DWC Chief Executive