A long, warm summer has seen the number of guests staying in New Zealand’s commercial accommodation continue to increase.
Statistics New Zealand’s Accommodation Survey shows that national guest nights for February were 7 per cent higher than in February last year.
The survey collects data for guests staying in hotels, motels, backpacker accommodation, and holiday parks each month.
Statistics New Zealand business indicators senior manager Neil Kelly said guest nights had been rising for about two years.
The extra day for the leap year and warm weather contributed to the increase in February, which had followed a record high in January, he said.
All 12 regions saw more guest nights for February and all four accommodation types had more guests.
Compared to last year, North Island guest nights in February were up 6.5 per cent, and South Island guest nights were up 7.8 per cent.
Domestic guest nights were up 6.1 per cent, and international guest nights were up 8 per cent.
For the year ended February, national guest nights had increased 5.2 per cent from a year earlier.
Tourism Industry Association chief executive Chris Roberts said the trend in commercial guest nights reflected growth in the tourism sector.
The association’s figures showed March would also be a strong month, easily surpassing guest night numbers for last March, he said.
The tourism industry was making a large contribution to the New Zealand economy and it needed to respond to growth.
“We need to plan with how we can cope with growth in the long term,” Roberts said.
There needed to be more investment to maintain the level of growth expected and this included building hotels, he said.
“However, it is important this is done at the right time. We don’t want a cycle of boom and bust. We want supply to stay just ahead of demand.”
Holidaymakers flocked to the capital in record numbers this summer, which looks set to pave the way for more hotels.
The region hosted 960,000 commercial guest nights between November and February.
This was an increase of 8 per cent on the previous summer, which grew by 5.6 per cent compared to the same period a year ago.
Domestic guest nights increased 14 per cent from November to February, which Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency chief executive Chris Whelan said was a tremendous result for businesses in Wellington’s visitor economy.
The visitor economy’s strong performance was making an attractive case for further hotel development in the region, he said.
“Hotels in Wellington averaged more than 80 per cent occupancy during the summer period. These results, and more importantly, the solid longer-term trends, have seen investment in Wellington hotel development increasing, and we’re working to ensure our visitor demand continues to support new capacity in the sector.”
The results suggested New Zealanders were seeking more from summer than just beach resorts and demonstrated the impact of a successful major events programme, he said.
The single biggest driver of visitation to Wellington was the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which brought about 45,000 thousand people to the region.
“Add to that a series of big concerts, sporting events, Chinese New Year and Te Papa’s popular Dreamworks: The Exhibition and we had the foundation for a strong summer season.”
Wellington businesses and agencies were focused on promoting major events and exhibitions, packaging a Wellington destination experience.
“With such variety throughout the region, and exceptional walkability for event attendees in the city, Wellington delivers on this promise, and we’re seeing positive numbers as a result.”
– Photo: Roderick Davison