Festival lights up capital stats

HAMISH MCNICOL
Last updated 05:00 24/03/2014

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The Doctor Who symphony and the Power Plant light show proved the biggest drawcards at this year's New Zealand Festival, as far as Wellington business was concerned.

But an improving economy, as well as the biannual festival itself, has helped open more wallets over the past month, though the full financial impact will not be known until later this year.

Earlier this month hospitality leaders said custom around the first week of the 24-day festival, previously known as the New Zealand International Arts Festival, had been at least as good as the 2012 festival.

The last festival was said to have an economic impact of $56 million, a $17m increase on the 2010 event.

There were 6000 more tickets sold this year, or 116,000 as at March 21, but the final financial report would not be completed until later this year.

The Botanical Gardens Power Plant light show attracted 22,000 people, which was the most popular of all the events.

Restaurant Association national president Mike Egan, of Wellington, said his earlier pick the festival had been one of the best for businesses yet had proved true, as trading remained strong throughout. He believed the light show, in particular, was an "inspired event". "That was probably the one we had the biggest raves about from people who had been to it."

The Power Plant show cost $30 for adults and $15 for children and enabled visitors to walk around light installations throughout the Botanical Gardens.

Egan said the past month of the festival had felt more buoyant than the 2012 event, though it was difficult to tell whether this was purely because of the festival.

"I just think people seemed to be in a better space, whether it's the programme or the economy's bounced back."

Positively Wellington Tourism chief executive David Perks said February had been a "ripper of a month" for hoteliers.

James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor general manager Steve Martin said the hotel had been fully booked over the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular on the opening weekend.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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