Hotels and motels feel winter's chill

JAMES WEIR
Last updated 05:00 11/08/2012

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Wellington hotels and motels are seeing a cooler winter for guest numbers than last year.

But events such as Wellington on a Plate, which kicked off yesterday, the coming World of WearableArt show and the Hobbit premiere should add some warmth, bringing thousands of people to the city.

Figures issued yesterday from Statistics New Zealand show that guests nights in the Wellington region in June were 176,000, down almost 6 per cent on the same month last year.

The occupancy rate in the region, excluding holiday parks, was just under 51 per cent, the lowest in the past 12 months.

However, Positively Wellington Tourism (PWT) said last winter was a record breaker so the latest drop was not that severe.

Chief executive David Perks said that big events did make a difference for hotels and motels, but the core driver was still business travel, and that had “teetered a little” in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Overall, commercial guest nights in Wellington were up 3.2 per cent for the June year, despite the Rugby World Cup in September and October, which did not actually lift the number of guest nights in the city.

The city is also getting a continued boost from Australian visitors, with annual numbers up more than 17 per cent, to 140,000. Direct arrivals from Australia to Wellington are up 42 per cent since 2007, when PWT boosted promotional efforts across the Tasman.

That helped offset a fall in visitors from Britain and the rest of Europe.

Wellington on a Plate attracted 25,400 festival-goers last year, though it was unclear how many were from out of town.

This year, events are being booked through a single website, which will allow organisers to get a better sense of how much business the festival attracts.

This year it includes the Beervana beer festival, on August 17 and 18.

Almost 19 per cent of ticket buyers to the New Zealand Chocolate Festival (August 24 till 26) are coming from outside greater Wellington and almost 40 per cent from outside Wellington City.

The city will also get a boost from the World of WearableArt show, which starts on September 27 and is sold out.

WOW was seen by a total audience of about 50,000 in 2011.

Later this year the city will host the premiere for the first Hobbit movie.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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