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% electric coach to its fleet.
Award winning Shore Trips and Tours will roll out the country’s first 100% electric tour bus following the recent fourth round of the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund. Managed by the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority, the fund encourages innovation and investment to accelerate the uptake of low emission vehicles.
The Mount Maunganui based tour company was awarded $134,250 (a 50% contribution) to assist in the purchase of a 25-30 seat 100% electric tour coach and three charging stations – one of 19 successful co-funding applications nationwide.
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.
Shore Trips and Tours Managing Director Ian Holroyd says the co-funding reinforces the company’s desire to lead sustainability in the sector and this government funding supports that.
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% 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% 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% electric tour coach.
Ms Dunne 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,” explains Mr Cossar.
“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.”