A new report commissioned by RotoruaNZ that assesses the contribution of mountain biking to the Rotorua Lakes economy shows that $103.4m was spent in Rotorua last year by visitors who came for the sole purpose of mountain biking. Other visitors who mountain biked while staying in Rotorua for other reasons spent a further $36.4m, a total contribution of $139.8m to the local economy.
RotoruaNZ chief executive Andrew Wilson said this finding underlines how important mountain biking is to the local economy.
“It reinforces the phenomenal benefits that previous investment into mountain biking infrastructure has made to the local economy. Te Pūtake o Tawa Mountain Bike Hub is a prime example of how investment into infrastructure in the form of car parking, toilet and shower facilities, etc., has provided an opportunity for the private sector to invest into their own businesses in a location that was previously undeveloped and inaccessible to mountain bikers.”
The report, written by economist Benje Patterson, also highlights the impact mountain biking in Rotorua has on jobs. Approximately 1,153 jobs in 2021 could have been supported by mountain bike visitors’ spending, and of these jobs 853 were supported by people whose primary purpose of visiting was to mountain bike.
Whilst the report largely focusses on the current contribution of mountain biking to Rotorua, it also considers a scenario for future growth, given the current context has been affected by Covid-19 border closures. The findings suggest that once international visitors have returned, the total number of people participating in mountain biking in Rotorua could rise from 154,170 in 2021 to 219,956 in 2026. The spend by mountain biking would increase from $139.8m in 2021, to $213.4m in 2026.
Wilson said, “These findings in particular are really exciting as they highlight the opportunities available to Rotorua in terms of future growth potential. The findings help to strengthen the argument for future investment and development so that we can be in a strong position to capitalise on the potential that mountain biking can contribute to the Rotorua economy. We know that by creating improved access to trails, the private sector is able to invest alongside.”
Download the full mountain biking report
This report uses a more comprehensive methodology than previous estimates conducted in 2018 and 2020. At the time of previous estimates, accurate visitation data was unavailable, however, in 2020, mobile phone-based visitation data was made accessible by Data Ventures. This has enabled RotoruaNZ to gain a much more accurate view of total visitation (and thus mountain bikers) to Rotorua instead of previous estimates which were based solely on counter data in Whakarewarewa Forest. This total view, alongside increases in the popularity of biking, plus inflation and forest investments (Whakarewarewa Forest Loop, Te Pūtake o Tawa, etc.), has led to a much higher figure, reflective of the true value that mountain biking brings into the Rotorua community.