COVID-19’s Economic Impact - Bay Faring Better Than Most
Recent economic data suggests that despite the significant early impacts of COVID-19, the Bay of Plenty’s economy is faring better than the country as a whole.
A recent quarterly Infometrics report commissioned by Bay of Plenty Regional Council shows that as a result of Alert Levels 4 and 3, Bay of Plenty’s GDP was down by 1.6 percent for the year to June 2020 compared to a national drop of 2.1 percent.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chair, Doug Leeder says that despite the relative resilience of the overall regional economy, due in part to sustained growth in dairy and horticulture, other industries within the rohe have been badly hit.
“Tourism employs just over one in ten people in our region, so the 11 percent annual decline in tourist spend is causing significant hardship, particularly in Rotorua and also in Whakatāne, which had already been hard-hit by the Whakaari eruption aftermath.
“We can’t forget that any significant business downturn causes job loses that can result in personal and family hardship which flows through to the wellbeing of our communities.
“COVID-19 Recovery has provided an unprecedented opportunity to work in partnership with central government to accelerate projects that have far-reaching benefits for our region,” Chair Leeder says.
Local government and iwi entities across the Bay have seized those opportunities, securing funds through the Provincial Growth Fund’s (PGF) and other funding channels such as the Department of Conservation’s Jobs for Nature.
Chair Leeder commented that these funds have activated a range of projects to save and create jobs and incorporate training and development that will foster employment sustainability.
“While addressing job loss is an immediate result, the projects deliver core outcomes such as business infrastructure development and digital connectivity for the longer-term benefit of our towns and cities. Close to Regional Council’s heart of course are the projects that also produce environmental gains and support safe and resilient communities.”
Forestry was one of the first sectors to be hit in the region with a 26 percent drop in annual performance but it has since bounced back as export orders recovered. Other sectors such as construction had continued to be hit hard.
“The 29 percent decrease in non-residential consents up until the end of June reinforces just how critical it was to secure the Crown Infrastructure Projects (CIP) funding to activate projects and demand within the construction and engineering industry.”
Chair Leeder says that the Infometrics report emphasises that regional recovery must be co-developed in collaboration with people from all sectors and across the rohe.
“We should also note that in the post-COVID period up to the June Infometrics report around 960 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs have been created through recovery funded projects. The number is currently over 2000, with further announcements anticipated.”
Regional Council’s Bay of Plenty Infometrics Quarterly Report to 30th June 2020 is available here.