A new initiative has been launched that aims to better promote Rotorua's retail and dining options.
Eats and Treats will be co-ordinated by Stay and Play Rotorua, which currently runs collective promotions for the city's tourism providers.
Stay and Play managing director Kay Clarke said this latest initiative was a natural progression for her business.
"The idea came about from retailers and some of the local cafe owners who had seen what we were doing to help with promotions for the tourism business and asked whether we could do something similar," she said. '
"With the dining and retail it will have more of a local focus as well as tapping into the visitors. It's a similar concept - we are directed by the businesses themselves as to where they would like us to target and we will be co-ordinating advertising on their behalf as well as direct mailouts and social media."
She said participating business would pay an "affordable" membership fee, which would also see them listed on the high-traffic www.rotorua.com site and be included in guides sent to accommodation providers and tourism and local business networks.
Ms Clarke said she wanted to turn Rotorua into a destination where people not only came to stay and play but to shop and eat. She said out-of-towners were often pleasantly surprised by what was on offer in the city.
"I host a lot of visitors and we get feedback often about how much they enjoyed the shopping or the dining experience while they were here but it's almost as if we need to be letting them know about it before they come."
Sheree McKenzie, owner of UnderStatement Lingerie, was one of the first to sign up to Eats and Treats. She believes Rotorua retail has a lot to offer.
"We have actually got really good retail in Rotorua. I get a lot of visitors from out of town in my shop and they comment they really like the personal service they get from the stores here," she said. "On Saturday morning I had customers from Mt Maunganui, Tauranga and Taupo and they had all come to Rotorua to shop because they hadn't been able to get what they wanted so were coming to the specialist shops here. They had come for the day shopping and that's what we want more of."
Ms McKenzie said small business owners often didn't have the skills, time or money to advertise or promote their businesses as well as they would like to.
"You're busy focussing on what you do well which is providing good service for your customers and you don't have time to do things like update the website or make sure you've got all the right key words," she said. "That's where Kay comes in because she's got the skills to manage that for us."
Ajay Chopra, owner of Solace Cafe & Restaurant and Tandoori Palace, also sees huge benefit in being part of Eats and Treats.
"We don't have the time (for promoting the businesses) plus the way things are going it's not busy in town so spending too much money on advertising ... it's quite expensive."
He hoped joining forces with other local businesses would be more cost-effective and would mean promotions were targeted at the right audiences.
"We want to get local people, national tourists, people from conferences ... we need to get some more people in."
Ms Clarke said it was all about spreading the word - to both visitors and locals.
"If we provide more information so people know what the specialties are of the different businesses hopefully that will let people know what's available on their own doorstep," she said. "If we can get locals in then they become ambassadors as well."