Some of Wellington's leading hospitality companies say the Rugby World Cup has pushed so much regular business out of the capital that most days are quieter than they would normally be at this time of year.
Chris Parkin, owner of the Museum Hotel, said in the days leading up to the start of the event the hotel had an occupancy rate of about 30 per cent, with corporate and leisure guests avoiding the city because they assumed it was full.
"I think everyone in New Zealand assumed the country would be brimming with people, and the pressure would be on accommodation, and certainly as far as Wellington was concerned, that just hasn't happened," Parkin said.
"I'm not critical of anyone, but New Zealanders seem to think there's no accommodation in the city, so people aren't travelling."
Parkin admits weak occupancy might be partly his own making. The Museum raised prices well in advance of the Rugby World Cup to make sure there were rooms available for last minute international guests, who so far have failed to materialise.
"To a certain extent we've been hoisted on our own petard, but we did it with the best of intentions, to make sure there was room for all these foreign visitors that were coming."
Other hoteliers said that while the rugby has not been a bonanza, it was meeting expectations based on contact with international peers, and the reflection that many of the economies in the rugby-loving world – mainly Europe – were sick.
Gregory Keeting, general manager of the Amora Hotel, said that while the hotel, long known as the Duxton, was not full throughout the event, and some normal business had been displaced, it was a strong period.
"The Amora is enjoying Rugby World Cup," Keeting said, with the hotel chain set to meet its budget for the period.
Shaun Clouston, head chef at upmarket Cuba Street restaurant Logan Brown, said business had been "a little bit up and down" so far during the rugby, which followed a strong winter, boosted by a series of successful events in Wellington.
The day of the South Africa v Wales test "was probably the quietest Sunday this year", something of a contrast to the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour, which had been "absolutely monumental" for the restaurant.
"I guess we'd hope and expect that it will pick up as the event progresses," Clouston said.
Jennie Langley, chairwoman of the New Zealand Hotel Council, said different regions were experiencing a mix of results during the rugby, and hotels within individual cities were reporting varying occupancy.
The general feedback from Wellington was that hoteliers were doing well from the event.
"Being the biggest event New Zealand has hosted, it has been very difficult for hotels to know what to expect," she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News