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Local travellers boost guest nights in April on Easter, Anzac holidays

Monday 17th June 2019

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Domestic travellers underpinned a 5.1 percent increase in accommodation guest nights in April, due to the Easter and Anzac Day holidays coinciding with school break. 

However, a drop in Chinese visitors saw international guest nights decline across all accommodation types. 

The total number of guest nights rose to 3.61 million in April from 3.43 million a year earlier, Stats NZ said. Domestic travellers underpinned the increase, up 14 percent at 2.12 million, while international travellers' guest nights dropped to 1.48 million from 1.57 million. 

"Easter falling in April this year meant that guest nights in most regions were higher than in April 2018," accommodation statistics manager Melissa McKenzie said in a statement. "Last year, Easter started at the end of March."

The timing of the Easter holidays has pushed around the headline figures for most tourism measures through March and April. However, declining Chinese visitor numbers have also been a running theme, even accounting for an Amway incentive programme last year that added an extra 6,000 visitors. 

The last accommodation survey will be published in November, although the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is seeking a new supplier that can capture a wider array of data at a cheaper price than what Stats NZ was proposing. 

Today's figures show holiday park guest nights rose at the fastest pace, up 14 percent at 781,000 from a year earlier. Motels rose 4 percent to 1.11 million, while hotels were up at 1.26 million and backpackers increased 0.8 percent to 451,000. All of those increases were driven by domestic travellers, with fewer international guest nights in all accommodation types. 

The South Island was the hardest hit by the decline in foreign visitors, with international guest nights down 8.9 percent at 771,000. The North Island's tourist guest nights fell 1.8 percent to 710,000.

The West Coast felt that most acutely with a 12 percent drop in guest nights to 117,000. Otago - which includes the country's major tourist attraction - Queenstown - decreased 0.3 percent to 556,000 and Southland was down 1.2 percent at 119,000. Canterbury accommodation rose 3.6 percent to 525,000 and Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman guest nights climbed 7.2 percent to 198,000. 

Northland registered the biggest increase, up 17 percent at 180,000 guest nights. 

The Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency noted a decline in international travel trade transactions in the March quarter after Tourism New Zealand cancelled two training events and several famliarisation programmes in the wake of the Christchurch shootings in March. Greater Wellington Regional Council's regional strategy committee will receive the quarterly report at its meeting on Tuesday. 

Wellington's guest nights increased 5.7 percent to 287,000 in April from the same month a year earlier. Auckland remained the largest pool of guest nights at 616,000, up 3.1 percent from a year earlier. 

Total accommodation capacity was up 2 percent at 143,000 stays from a year earlier, with an occupancy rate of 46.6 percent, up from 45.8 percent in April 2018. 


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