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Gisborne comes out tops on Regional Economic Scoreboard

Gisborne came out tops for the fourth consecutive quarter in the latest ASB Regional Economic Scoreboard.

Neighboring Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki have both climbed dramatically up the rankings, with these regions looking good as the economy went into lockdown.

The dry summer was a big challenge at the start of the year, but COVID-19 emerged to become the biggest challenge the country has faced in many years, impacting all areas.

Missing tourists is a theme for many regions that suddenly find themselves in a completely different environment than what we imagined only six months ago.

Gisborne still the place to be

It has been Gisborne’s year, and the region comes out tops on our regional rankings for the fourth successive quarter. Like everywhere, question marks are about the COVID-19 impact on the future.

"Gisborne is significantly exposed to the impact of COVID-19," says ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley.

"The forestry sector was initially hit hard hit by the disruptions caused by coronavirus and the meat sector has been impacted too. China’s ongoing recovery from its COVID-19 disruption will help to drive a similar recovery in fortunes for these key sectors as well," says Nick.

The region went into the crisis with plenty of momentum. Housing market strength saw house price growth top the nationwide ranks over the quarter. Retail trade and new car registrations also grew more here than anywhere else.

Hawke’s Bay yo-yo’s across the year

The Hawke’s Bay has been on a yo-yo ride in the ASB Scoreboard, courtesy of some lumpy growth data. This quarter it moved in the right direction, up to third place. The pipeline of both residential and non-residential consents was healthy at the end of Q1, and retail sales activity has been solid.

"Confidence in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne has been interesting – in early 2019 it was lower than nationwide, but in more recent surveys it has bounced back, which is encouraging for the region," says Nick.

Just like the other 'Bay', Hawke’s Bay is well positioned to capture a good slice of domestic tourism while the borders are closed.

"It seems in some cases that joy may be short-lived as the coronavirus outbreak and local drought combine to send rural incomes back to earth, at least temporarily," says Nick.

Tide turns for Taranaki

Taranaki has climbed dramatically up the rankings, from mid-pack to second place. The result reflects a good pipeline of construction work, house price growth and solid retail sales growth over the past year.

"Consumer confidence has taken a knock this year, but is still holding up better than average, and the unemployment rate was lower than elsewhere as we went into lockdown. That all bodes well for the future as the economy emerges from the COVID-19 crisis," says Nick.

Domestic tourism and regional economic activity

Missing tourists is a theme for many regions that suddenly find themselves in a completely different environment than what we imagined only six months ago.

The tourism sector is perhaps the most visible casualty from COVID-19, and it impacts each region by quite varying amounts. Due to the loss of international tourism, New Zealand’s GDP will be 3-5 per cent lower than it would otherwise be. The return to pre-COVID-19 levels of free cross-border movement looks to be years, rather than months away. Domestic tourism within New Zealand is already 40 per cent larger than inbound tourism, and the switch towards domestic tourist experiences for New Zealanders will lessen the economic hit while we wait for borders to re-open.

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