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Estimating the Economic Impact of Whale Song

Kapiti Coast District Council commissioned an independent report from leading NZ economics company Infometrics. This report was completed on the 29th August, 2023, prepared by Senior Economists Nick Brunsden and Brad Olsen.

This report provides some essential up to date baseline data for monitoring future growth across this sector as a result of Whale Song.

Infometrics calculated the benefits of Whale Song based on 3 tourism number scenarios. One scenario is the Whale Song Trust’s estimates on visitors at 500,000 per year (high), with 150,000 visitors being the medium scenario and only 50,000 visitors being the low forecast scenario.

This report shows that if the high scenario (500,000 new visitors) is achieved, the impact will not only be significant for the district, but also for surrounding regions absorbing the spillover that will occur as Kāpiti’s accommodation/facilities/resources are filled.

The trust comprehends that 500,000 visitors in the first year is a high expectation, but as market awareness of Whale Song increases, local services and capacity grows (which is already happening), we believe this number will certainly be achievable within 5 years.

The high scenario of 500,000 visitors to Whale Song would yield 462,500 additional visitors, or a 242% increase (more than two and a half times the current total visitation across the entire Kāpiti district).

The medium scenario, based on 150,000 additional visitors, is a 59% increase in visitors above the current baseline.

Focussing on the medium scenario, resulting from the installation of Whale Song, the Infometrics report has also calculated the following.

  • $51m increase in tourism spending, over the baseline of $173m total spend

  • $34m growth in GDP for Kāpiti

  • 462 new jobs created mainly in the tourism sector in Kāpiti, particularly accommodation and food services.

  • Resulting in a 43% increase in tourism employment in the Kāpiti District alone, as a result of implementing Whale Song.

Note: Any effect of Whale Song with flow on visitor attraction (wayfinding), distributing visitor traffic, thus tourism spending and increased employment out to the surrounding regions (The Golden Triangle), will clearly add additional economic benefit to the above positive projections.

In this report is one “free” attraction comparison that stands out as a good example of the potential of Whale Song and how it can stimulate travelling visitors.

  • Huka Falls, on SH1, has 9000 vehicles passing each day and attracts 900,000 visitors annually.

  • Whale Song will have 27,000 vehicles passing a day, plus 5 million foot traffic through nearby Coastlands annually.

Infometrics has a medium scenario of 150,000 visitors creating over 400 new jobs in the Kāpiti District. We still firmly believe Whale Song will exceed 500,000 visitors annually, as awareness of Whale Song goes global, certainly achievable based on numbers visiting Huka Falls without a significant city or international access point nearby.

Whale Song Economic impact Report
Download PDF • 257KB


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