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Reasons for optimism for Hastings in economic report card

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While the impact of Covid restrictions is being felt in Hastings, the latest Infometrics quarterly economic report shows the district’s economy is performing well.

One of the metrics was tourism spending, which was up 16 per cent over the three months to December 2021, compared to the national average growth of 3.9 per cent.

The report, released last week, showed that overall the Hastings economy grew 7.4 per cent over the three month period, ahead of the 5.5 per cent national average.

“The Hastings economy is being supported by elevated fruit export prices, helped by a weak New Zealand dollar, strong consumer and tourism spending, and a busy construction sector,” the report said.

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the continued growth in tourism spend was heartening and reflected the district’s appeal as a destination.

“The restrictions on international travel have seen people looking closer to home for holidays and weekends away, and they are discovering just how beautiful Hastings is.

“Our district features stunning landscapes, beautiful beaches, amazing cycle tracks, some of the country’s best food and wine offerings, fabulous weather – it has year-round appeal for a wide variety of people.”

She said that while the report gave a positive picture of Hastings’ resilience, there was no doubt that some businesses were having to manage their way through a very tough time.

“There’s no doubt we’ve faced real challenges with COVID, particularly our retail, events and hospitality businesses who are feeling the effects locally.

“As a council we are focusing on what we can do to support these businesses, and attract more people into town – it’s hard out there at the moment, but these figures give reason for optimism.”

Other metrics in the report reflected a high level of activity and strong growth in the primary and industrial/commercial sectors in Hastings.

Non-residential building consents rose 59.6 per cent compared to the national average 16.2 per cent and commercial vehicle registrations increased by 45.7 per cent, against the national average of 25.4 per cent.

Mrs Hazlehurst said these numbers were borne out by visible evidence of investment across Hastings.

 “In the areas that we have rezoned for industrial development, demand is almost outstripping supply - there are groundworks happening and new buildings appearing almost every week.  Our Whakatū industrial area will soon be home to the largest packhouse and cool store in the southern hemisphere, and that is just one of the projects happening in that sector alone.

“Our primary sector is the driving force of our economy, and its strength and resilience even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic is being seen in the burgeoning off-orchard/farm support service industries – from food processing to value-added product manufacture, building, rural and engineering services and logistics.”

Hastings District Council chief executive Nigel Bickle said as well as the hundreds of millions of dollars being invested by the horticultural industry in cool stores and pack houses: “there’s more than $100m being spent by the private sector on new health facilities, tens of millions on school upgrades, and $60m going into new facilities on the regional sports park.

“In the housing space there is tens of millions being spent on roads and pipes to support new housing – social, affordable and private market, and this year $50m is being invested in completing Council’s major drinking water infrastructure upgrade.”

Mrs Hazlehurst said while the significant level of economic activity was exciting for the district, Council remained cognisant of balancing the demand for growth with the protection of the soils and natural treasures that make Hastings the great place it is.

 

8 March 2022

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