Now that it is starting to feel like spring, thoughts are turning to the summer and preparations for the annual influx of visitors to Coromandel.
We sometimes forget that even during winter months people come and visit our region.
A report prepared by Infometrics for the Thames Coromandel District Council highlighting the Coromandel’s economic strength is encouraging news. It shows in the year ended June 2015 we had economic growth of 4% which was stronger than the nationwide figure of 3.1%. Underpinning that growth was our tourism sector which grew even during the winter months. Cheaper petrol prices and a lower New Zealand dollar have been contributing factors to increased numbers of tourists headed our way. Visitors are coming in greater numbers, they are staying longer and they are spending more while they are here.
Another sign of growth has been an increase in the number of new houses being built on the Peninsula. Strong residential construction numbers were identified as a factor in our overall growth. Part of that comes as more people leave city centres like Auckland and Hamilton to take advantage of our better value property and great lifestyle opportunities.
Pleasingly all this economic activity has helped push down unemployment levels too. The report shows that unemployment rates on the Coromandel are down to 4.5% against the nationwide level of 5.7%.
Access to fast and reliable broadband is crucial to further growth in our region. I was delighted to see that Coromandel Town has been included on a ‘long list’ of locations in the running to receive ultra-fast broadband. Thames and Whitianga were already on the list but now Whangamata, Tairua and Coromandel town have been added thanks to lobbying by TCDC and local businesses. I will continue to push hard for this opportunity as well as further extension of the Rural Broadband Initiative to areas outside of town.
The next phase is for the various telecoms companies to submit proposals to expand the broadband fibre network to locations on the list and also for Council to prepare supporting cases for each township. That will involve a detailed Digital Enablement Plan. Decisions are still some way off but having Coromandel Town included on the list for consideration is an encouraging first step.
Roll on summer, roll on ultra-fast broadband.