WOW a boon for Wellington hotels
Central Wellington hotels were packed out because of the WOW factor in the past couple of weeks.
And it's looking like another full house for The Hobbit movie premiere at the end of November.
The World of WearableArt show brought in about 30,000 out- of-town visitors.
Hotelier Olivier Lacoua, executive manager at CQ Hotels Wellington, said they had a full house during WOW and most city hotels were 95 per cent to fully booked for the show period.
"It was one of the best years for WOW," he said, "and it was a nice relief to see things back to normal, with the trade back to life.
"Everyone had a very good month in September because of WOW, and October and November are looking very strong," Lacoua said, with a busier period for the corporate conference market.
And as soon as the date of November 28 was confirmed for The Hobbit film premiere bookings started to roll in for what may be another bumper week for hotels.
"That is going to be big," Lacoua said. "We are going to be busy - hopefully a full house."
A Wellington tourism industry spokeswoman hoped to see a turnout topping the 100,000 or more lining the city streets for the Lord of the Rings 2003 premiere.
"We are expecting similar numbers," Positively Wellington Tourism general manager marketing Sarah Meikle said, including a lot of international visitors and plenty of locals who would jump in their cars and head to town.
"There is still space available [in hotels] in the lead-up to the premiere, but space is getting very tight, so that's a strong indication it will be a very busy week," she said.
The economic benefit of the WOW show this year is not yet clear, but in 2009 it was estimated at $15 million in new spending and audience numbers have risen 18 per cent since then.
A total of 47,188 people saw WOW this year, including more than 30,000 Kiwis from out of town, and there were rising numbers of international visitors, too.
The WOW show has become a significant event for the tourism and hotel sector in Wellington and a change in the timing of the show from last year has knocked a hole in latest official guest numbers.
Hotel, motel and backpacker occupancy rates in the Wellington region slumped almost 20 per cent in August to 47 per cent full, compared with the same month last year.
But that was only because the World of WearableArt show was held in August last year, ahead of the Rugby World Cup, which started in September 2011.
Last August hotels were 58.6 per cent full during WOW, almost as strong as the following two months during the World Cup.
This year WOW was back to a later start, on September 27 to October 7, so the show's boost to Wellington's hotels and motels will come through about a month later than last year.