Early Easter accom boost claim disputed
South Canterbury holiday park operators providers don’t agree with Stats NZ as to why they have been so busy.
Stats NZ figures released on Thursday claimed an early Easter helped lift holiday park guest nights by 25 per cent in March 2018 - 180,000 more than the same month last year.
However, Twizel Holiday Park owner Janelle Shaw, while revealing their occupancy rate in March this year was 92 per cent, compared to 83 per cent in March last year, said she didn’t think Easter played too much of a part in this.
‘‘No matter what we would have been fully booked,’’ she said.
‘‘I noticed it just because you think it should be starting to get quiet.’’
Shaw, was ‘‘shocked’’ at how many tourists were still on the road in April, adding that period had also been exceptionally busy for the park, with occupancy rates up seven per cent compared to April last year.
‘‘I just didn’t know what was going on,’’ she said.
In the Waimate District, Glenavy’s Waitaki River Motor Camp owner Anne Lomas also said it wasn’t just Easter that contributed to a busy March, but the Ed Sheeran concerts taking place in Dunedin.
‘‘We didn’t really get any holidaymakers in March because the park was filled with people going to the concert.
‘‘We had an extremely busy March but I think April was about the same as last year.’’
Timaru Top 10 Holiday Park owner Gordon Collister said Easter’s always a ‘‘mixed blessing’’ depending on which month it falls in.
However, he said with Timaru not being a first choice holiday destination for people, the park is generally reliant on there being events taking place.
He said the Oceania Speed Skating Championships being held during Easter lifted the parks occupancy to 4250 in March, compared to 3465 in March last year.
‘‘We were also up eight or nine per cent in April,’’ he said.
‘‘March was looking pretty smart anyway with a number of events taking place.
‘‘We’re pretty dependant on what events are taking place at certain times.’’
A Temuka Holiday Park spokesman also said they would have been busy anyway, regardless of an early Easter.
‘‘I don’t think Easter made a hell of a lot of difference.
‘‘We were just as busy as we would have been last Easter and the Easter before that.’’
Hospitality Association South Canterbury accommodation sector chairman and Avenue Motor Lodge owner Mark Offen said there was events on nearly every weekend in March, and agreed accommodation providers in South Canterbury would have been busy regardless.
He said the Rock and Hop and the South Island Secondary School’s Athletics were events that contributed to a busy March in Timaru, and events like Maadi Cup Rowing contributed to a busy March in Twizel.
‘‘We were going to be busy anyway because of the events that were attracted to town in March,’’ he said.
‘‘Those events made it a good time for accommodation providers throughout South Canterbury. For me I was also benefited by the Ed Sheeran concert as well.’’
Stats NZ accommodation statistics manager Melissa McKenzie said warm weather in March may also have been a factor.
Total guest nights, including all accommodation types, rose eight per cent in March this year compared to last year, when Easter fell completely in April.
Holiday parks led the increase in guest nights, with New Zealanders spending 135,000 more nights in holiday park accommodation, and international guests spent 52,000 more nights than March last year, Stats NZ figures show.
Collister said international visitors numbers in the Timaru Top 10 Holiday Park were up about 10 per cent compared to March last year.
Glenavy experienced a boost in tourist numbers in March thanks to the Ed Sheeran concert.