Events boost Wellington's tourism economy

Hosting entertainment and industry events helped boost Wellington's tourism economy during November, attracting visitors to lift weekend hotel bookings almost 13 per cent.

Data collected by council-controlled Positively Wellington Tourism showed hotel occupancy rose 2.3 per cent during the weekdays in November from the same time last year. Weekends were busy with out-of-towners driving hotel occupancy up 12.8 per cent.

The city's hotels were almost entirely booked out for the world premiere of Sir Peter Jackson's latest film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on November 28. Overall occupancy was at 99.7 per cent that night while hotels were 95 per cent full for most of that week.

Events such as the gaming and animation industry conference Animfx and design conference Semi-Permanent attracted people to Wellington during November. Sell-out concerts from international artists such as The Black Keys, Mumford & Sons and Ben Harper drew visitors from out of town.

"November saw back-to-back sell out concerts . . . followed by three consecutive weekends of major performance events at St James Theatre. This line-up will certainly have played a big role in November's strong growth in weekend room sales," Positively Wellington Tourism chief executive David Perks said.

Almost 30 per cent of tickets sold for the Wellington exclusive performance of Agatha Christie's play The Mousetrap went to visitors from outside the city. Positively Wellington Venues chief executive Glenys Coughlan said tickets to the play, with an Australian cast, sold "exceptionally well".

Perks said January was typically a weak month for the Wellington tourism industry and he was "working through ideas" to combat that in both the short and long term.

Next year several events in the city's calendar will bring visitors from out of town, including the exhibition of Andy Warhol's art that will be at Te Papa in June.

On the sporting front, Wellington will host an AFL premiership match in April. The city's regular events such as Visa Wellington on a Plate in August and World of Wearable Art in September will run in 2013.

Wellington has more than 3.4 million domestic and 750,000 international visitors a year, spending $2600 a minute, according to Ministry of Economic Development Regional Tourism data.