Auckland’s central city business association is calling for a more visible police presence after retailers faced a difficult 2023.

Businesses have grappled with increasing costs and rising safety concerns in the central city over the past 12 months but sector leaders say 2024 could be a turning point.

Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck said increased visitation in the city was good news for business.

“We’ve got a bumper cruise season and we’re hoping to see a lot of tourists, because that’s good for business and brings a lot of vibrancy,” she said.

Beck said the city was also seeing more international students coming back.

But the new year was not without its challenges, and she wanted to see more police in the central city.

“We definitely want to see more police here, a much more visible presence, and ideally a downtown police station,” she said.

“There’s quite a strong consensus that that will change the dial here.”

Beck said she wanted to see a stronger pipeline for events and their funding in Auckland, after the success of events like the FIFA Women’s World Cup last year.

Meanwhile, the head of the Auckland Business Chamber said he hoped 2024 would end stronger than last year for Auckland businesses.

Business Chamber chief executive Simon Bridges said the year may start off sluggish for businesses, before improving.

“I do think help, hope, confidence is on its way in the second half with potentially lower interest rates, with [the] government going better, with just a general business environment, I think, feeling more optimistic.”

Bridges said while crystal balls were “hard to come by” when making predictions, businesses should be realistically optimistic for the coming year.

“Certainty if we see interest rates go down in the second half [of the year], and a few other factors go our way, I’m willing to predict, with a bit of realism, it’s going to be a more optimistic second half of 2024 for business.”

Bridges said business confidence was already up.

By Finn Blackwell for rnz.co.nz

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