Tairāwhiti’s economy took a breath in the March 2021 quarter, following its impressive recovery over the preceding two quarters. According to provisional estimates from Infometrics, the area’s economy contracted marginally compared to the March 2020 quarter. However, economic activity was still up 1.2 percent pa over the year to March 2021, a far better result than the 3 percent decline in the national economy.
Consumer confidence remains robust, with card spending in the March 2021 quarter up by 3.2 percent on the March 2020 quarter, in contrast to a 1.4 percent decline nationally, according to data received from Marketview.
“It’s difficult to compare the data for the quarter ended March 2021 versus a year ago as a week of last year’s data was when the entire country was in COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown,” says Gisborne Chamber of Commerce President Belinda Mackay.
“But we can be pleased we are in a much better position than other regions due to our economy being less affected by COVID-19.
“We need to focus on building a strong economy that benefits all in our region by offering sustainable employment and training opportunities for those most affected by the pandemic.”
Tourism activity remained steady, with tourism spending for the year to March 2021 growing by 4 percent in stark contrast to a 16.6 percent decline nationally.
Total tourism expenditure was approximately $78 million in the Gisborne District in the March 2021 quarter, increasing $3 million from the same period last year.
“Tairāwhiti enjoyed a busy summer season attracting a good number of domestic tourists,” says Regional Manager of Tourism Adam Hughes.
“The great visitor spend result has given our hospitality, accommodation and attraction businesses a good confidence boost after a tough year of trading.
“Importantly, this growth sets up the region nicely leading into the next winter season.”
Strong house price growth is also spurring higher construction activity. The quarterly number of residential consents issued is above the Districts’ 10 year average for the fourth consecutive year.
Non-residential consents increased by an impressive 76 percent pa, on the back of consistent activity over the past year. This growth, along with steady increases in commercial vehicle registrations, suggests that business confidence in Tairāwhiti is firm and improving.
Labour market outcomes also improved with the employment of Tairāwhiti residents increasing by 1.6 percent in contrast to a slight contraction nationally.
Jobseeker numbers continued to retreat from their highs in the September 2020 quarter. However, unemployment remains stubbornly high, at an average rate of 6.6 percent over the year to March 2021.
“The regional agencies working together in the CARE (Commitment, Action, Reciprocity leading to Employment) forum are working hard to connect jobseekers to the opportunities in region,” says Trust Tairāwhiti GM Economic Development Richard Searle.
“The workforce development plan is being rolled out with boots on the ground and CARE is exploring how best we can leverage the significant forward pipeline of construction work ahead for job creation and training,” he says.