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