• Video: Hawke’s Bay tourism set for a big summer after “mammoth’ Robbie Williams concerts

Video: Hawke’s Bay tourism set for a big summer after “mammoth’ Robbie Williams concerts

Hawke’s Bay tourism is set of a big summer after two “mammoth” Robbie Williams concerts which attracted scores of visitors to the region.

In anticipation of a good festive season, Hawke’s Bay Tourism has launched its biggest-ever marketing campaign aimed at attracting visitors to the region for a bumper summer.

The campaign comes on the heels of the region’s biggest weekend ever, with more than 40,000 visitors descending on Hawke’s Bay to attend the two Robbie Williams concerts at Mission Estate Winery in Napier. At its peak, 36,909 domestic visitors and 3,222 international visitors were recorded in Hawke’s Bay at midday Sunday 12 November, according to Tourism New Zealand’s Visitor and Local Population Estimates.

This is the highest number of total visitors recorded on a single day since records began in January 2020.

It follows a tough number of years for the tourism and visitor industry, which has battled against COVID-19 and the lockdowns that saw international borders closed; the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle; and the cost of living crisis.

In an interview with Hawke’s Bay App, Hawke’s Bay Tourism CEO Hamish Sexton said having two Robbie Williams concerts meant it was a big weekend.

“It was absolutely mammoth, and of course it required people to stay. It required people to stay longer. People were arriving earlier, so we had people coming in filling the towns and regions from Thursday and Friday, and actually staying longer. There were still plenty people about on Monday and Tuesday.”

“Air New Zealand put on additional flights into Hawke's Bay to deal with the demand, and even with those additional flights, there was still the inability to get a seat out of Hawke's Bay on the Monday and Tuesday. There were a lot of people staying, a lot of people enjoying their time here. We had that beautiful weather, but talking to retailers and hospitality managers, it was huge, and I think it put a lot of smiles on the faces of our businesses who really needed to see that business come back.”

“I think it also gave a significant shot in the arm about confidence,” says Saxton.

He says the events have set the tone for a good summer.

“There are so many great events coming up. Hawke's Bay is always a great place to come and enjoy summer events, to enjoy our beautiful beaches, enjoy our beautiful weather, and I think forward bookings are looking really, really good.”

“Our international visitors are particularly good at booking in advance, and they're really, really positive about visiting our region. As I say, we've got those cruise ships coming in. We've got about 70 days’ worth of cruise ship visits up until April, so we are expecting it to be a really great season.”

Events to look forward include music and artists festival Nest Fest; music, art and food festival Outfield; international cricket against Bangladesh at McLean Park; Art Deco; and Bridge Pa Wine Festival among others.

Saxton says Hawke’s Bay relies on the international tourist market and increasingly, particularly since COVID-19 the domestic market.

“We have to make sure that we continue to promote ourselves as New Zealand's food and wine country. That is the thing that sets Hawke's Bay apart from anywhere else, and you can experience all of those aspects of food and wine country while you are here.”

“There are so many reasons to spend a good long time in Hawke's Bay to ponder, to just actually soak up what we've got and to have a really, really good summer holiday, in particular this season.”

Watch the accompanying video to see the full interview with Hamish Saxton.