Bad weather sends trav­ellers pack­ing

Nelson Mail - - BUSINESS - AMANDA CROPP

Bad weather and cheaper air­fares saw more Kiwi hol­i­day­mak­ers head­ing off­shore in Jan­uary and there’s a warn­ing that tourism growth is slow­ing.

Do­mes­tic guest nights for the month were down 78,000, with ho­tels and mo­tels most af­fected.

This co­in­cided with a 16 per cent in­crease in the av­er­age num­ber of New Zealan­ders head­ing off­shore for short­term trips.

Na­tion­ally a 7 per cent in­crease in in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors more than off­set the drop in do­mes­tic trav­ellers, ex­cept in Auck­land and Welling­ton where guest nights for Jan­uary were lower than the pre­vi­ous year.

Can­ter­bury was also down, mainly as a re­sult of the Kaik­oura earth­quakes.

Sta­tis­tics New Zealand said the Jan­uary fig­ures sug­gested a de­creas­ing trend in do­mes­tic guest nights and a flat­ten­ing trend in in­ter­na­tional guest nights.

Tourism In­dus­try Aotearoa chief ex­ec­u­tive Chris Roberts said there had been a def­i­nite ‘‘soft­en­ing’’ in both lo­cal and over­seas vis­i­tor mar­kets in the past three or four months.

Cheaper deals for travel to the United States and Asia, along with ‘‘pretty aver- age weather’’ in many parts of the coun­try, had con­trib­uted to the change in travel pat­terns.

‘‘For the last cou­ple of months the num­ber of New Zealan­ders go­ing over­seas has been grow­ing faster than the num­ber com­ing here,’’ Roberts said.

A pick-up in June and July dur­ing the Lions rugby tour would dis­guise any slow­down, but it ap­peared both New Zealand and global travel in to­tal ‘‘may be set­tling down a bit’’, he said.

‘‘The dou­ble-digit growth that we have been lucky enough to ex­pe­ri­ence over the last 21⁄ years had to come to an end at some point. We may be more likely to see 4 to 5 per cent growth as more re­al­is­tic, rather than the 10 to 12 per cent growth in vis­i­tor num­bers we’ve been see­ing.’’

Roberts said there was ev­i­dence that do­mes­tic use of ho­tels was de­clin­ing as in­ter­na­tional guests in­creased, and Ki­wis were pos­si­bly more sen­si­tive to price rises.

Roberts said the num­ber of Ki­wis who opted to stay with friends and fam­ily was also sig­nif­i­cant.

Slightly more than half the 2.8 mil­lion vis­i­tors to Auck­land last year sayed in un­paid ac­com­mo­da­tion, 26 per cent stayed in com­mer­cial ac­com­mo­da­tion, and about 20 per cent used Airbnb or hol­i­day homes, he said.

PHTO: ROBERT KITCHIN/FAIRFAX NZ

Wet weather has been blamed in part for the drop in the num­ber of Ki­wis stay­ing in com­mer­cial ac­com­mo­da­tion over sum­mer.

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