A leading Tauranga tour operator is steering the region’s booming tourism industry in a sustainable direction after being co-funded more than $130,000 to add a 100 per cent electric coach to its fleet.
Award winning Shore Trips and Tours will roll out the country’s first 100 per cent electric tour bus following the recent fourth round of the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, which is overseen by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.
The Mount Maunganui-based tour company was awarded $134,250 (a 50 per cent contribution) to assist in the purchase of a 25-30 seat 100 per cent electric tour coach and three charging stations – one of 19 successful co-funding applications nationwide.
Shore Trips and Tours managing director Ian Holroyd says the co-funding reinforces him and his company’s desire to lead sustainability in the sector and shows backing from central government to do so.
Already signed up to Tourism Industry Aotearoa’s New Zealand Tourism Sustainability Commitment, Shore Trips and Tours believes “This is a milestone moment for the industry and we take pride in leading the way for environmental sustainability in tour operations,” says Ian.
“I’m confident others will follow suit, we aren’t unique in our business offering, but someone needs to be the first in taking the next step. So why not us?”
The coach will become operational early next year. The six on-board battery packs will offer a driving range of 170-190km.
The three charging stations will be installed at the company’s new depot in Mount Maunganui, Te Puia in Rotorua and Hobbiton in Matamata.
Ian says the project will provide a sustainable transport option year-round for tourists and locals alike. Outside the cruise ship season (October-April) it will be incorporated into the company’s fleet for local corporate clients’ use.
The company, Tauranga’s largest independent tour operator, caters for 22,000 tourists each season and 65 per cent of the income from this is pumped back into the local economy through jobs and spending.
According to Tourism Bay of Plenty, this coming cruise season will see a record-breaking 110 ships berth in the Coastal Bay of Plenty – up 35 per cent on last season’s 81 ships.
It will inject an estimated $63 million into the Coastal Bay of Plenty economy and support 1224 jobs.
Tourism Bay of Plenty Chief Executive Officer Kristin Dunne applauds Shore Trips and Tours’ initiative, alongside Te Puia and Hobbiton, in helping shape the future of tourism with the nation’s first 100 per cent electric tour coach.
Kristine says the project aligns with Tourism Bay of Plenty’s move to Destination Management and its commitment to sustainability.
Being a Destination Management Organisation means Tourism Bay of Plenty will not just market the region, but will also work with lead agencies to understand the impact the visitor economy is having on the region and best manage this.
Te Puia chief executive Tim Cossar recognises that electric vehicle technologies are becoming more prominent and says this project is the first step towards more coaches and rental vehicles in the tourism industry becoming electric.
“The number of electric-powered vehicles will only increase in the next five to six years,” says Tim.
“For us, this is supporting something with real meaning that will enhance the tour offering, and supporting one of our major tour operators.”
Hobbiton Movie Set Tours general manager Russell Alexander says that making the switch to sustainable vehicles is something many operators are exploring right across the industry.
“I’m excited about this. I think the industry is aware of the footprint and wants to do its bit to help reduce this.
“This can only mean good things for the industry.”