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Pick-Up In Forecast For City Economy

Auckland City Council

For Auckland, a city recently obsessed by weather-watching for America’s Cup, there is good news in a forecast of another kind.

“The economic forecast for Auckland looks bright and this is promising,” says Councillor Victoria Carter, chairperson of the City Attractions Committee.

“It’s reassuring for our ratepayers to see the money invested in the city to support tourism is paying dividends.”

Auckland City’s Economy, a report produced annually by economists Infometrics Ltd for the council’s Strategic Development Group, says the economic clouds of 1998 and early 1999 are clearing. It predicts a pick-up in activity across a broad range of business and industry.

Tourism and manufacturing are the particular bright spots in a city economy responding to a global upturn and recovering from a “hammering” in the Asian crisis, says the report.

The America’s Cup is itself identified as a booster to future tourism, partly through the international media spotlight on Auckland over the past year.
It also helped new commercial building peak at $450 million in 1998, with construction activity around Viaduct Harbour and Quay Park.

Cllr Carter says tourism is a key growth sector for both the city and Auckland region.

“We will be working hard at keeping up the momentum created by the America’s Cup. Auckland is being seen internationally as a great place to hold major events. The City will be at the forefront of efforts to attract these events and promote Auckland in this way,” she says.

“Tourists are also coming back to New Zealand’s gateway and that’s great news for our retailers and accommodation providers.”

North Asian visitors alone dropped 30 per cent at one stage, but since March 1999 there has been an 8.7 per cent hike in international tourist arrivals.

In 1999, Auckland City accounted for about 17 per cent of New Zealand production, about the same as the rest of the region’s local authorities put together.

The report says growth in Auckland City’s gross domestic product (GDP) will be on a par with the region and, at 4.1 per cent over the next three years, higher than the national average.

This reflects the continued drift of New Zealanders and immigrants to Auckland and the city’s strong presence in three fast-growing industries – transport, communications and business services.

Cllr Carter: “To achieve a dynamic economy for Auckland, we need to look at the growth opportunities built on knowledge and technology and make sure the city is an easy place to do business. Council will play its part by reducing the costs of complying with regulations.

“We want to help growth industries develop. The City is encouraging links between business and the city’s tertiary education sector, for example, to attract international students to Auckland and earn valuable foreign exchange.

“We’ll also be working with our local authority and business partners throughout Auckland on a regional approach for economic development.”

The report says the city’s economic structure is similar to that of the region. However, a major difference lies in its dependence on business and financial services for its income. This reflects its status as the country’s largest commercial centre.

New Zealanders, both in their ordinary lives and their business worlds, will continue to take to technological advances.

The adoption of data and mobile communications technologies is driving growth in the communications sector, says the report. The country can expect to see more on-line buying of traditional retail goods and more on-line trade between businesses.

Information technology and business consultants will be busy, with Auckland continuing to attract businesses and efficient utilisation of technology becoming increasingly important in all industries.


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