Backpackers buck trend in guest nights

JAZIAL CROSSLEY
Last updated 08:11 13/11/2012
Robbie Narayanasamy
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ
GOOD VALUE: Wellington Backpackers manager Robbie Narayanasamy says occupancy of the Tory St hostel has been growing.

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More people stayed in backpacker hostels in September, bucking an overall drop in guest nights in the month, as fewer foreign tourists came to New Zealand.

According to the latest Statistics New Zealand data, nights spent in hotels by overseas guests were down 4.7 per cent overall, while domestic guest nights slipped by a marginal 0.3 per cent.

Overall, total guests nights in September were down 1.4 per cent compared with August. That followed a rise of 2.6 per cent in August.

One reason for the fall in September is the fewer tourists in town to book hotel rooms.

Short-term visitors arriving in New Zealand fell 3.3 per cent in September from the previous month, with 179,100 people entering the country temporarily.

However, hostels had a boost as backpacker stays rose 3.5 per cent, the only part of the accommodation sector to see an increase nationwide last month.

Downtown Backpackers Wellington general manager Simon Rea said it was busier, but the rise was mostly down to school groups with many students staying during the holidays.

"Things are definitely starting to pick up, coming out of winter, though," he said.

Wellywood Backpackers' new manager, Robbie Narayanasamy, said the 59-room hostel on Tory St had been busier recently.

"I have been doing a lot of changes so there has been an increase ever since I have taken over. Guests want something cheap and lots of service. We've got a convenience shop in the building now with cheap breakfast, everything $1, so I think that's one of the reasons why guests like it. The accommodation is not expensive and they can get everything they want."

Statistics New Zealand said in its report on the figures that unadjusted international guest nights fell in all 12 regions in September, 2012, compared with a year prior after the Rugby World Cup boosted international guest nights throughout most of the country in September, 2011.

In Wellington, September guest nights were down 3.1 per cent on last year. Overall occupancy rose 10 per cent to 57 per cent, just shy of the 58 per cent occupancy across the board for Auckland accommodation providers.

"We had fewer international guest nights, and domestic guest nights were also down slightly. Backpackers were the only accommodation type to have a rise in seasonally adjusted guest nights," Statistics New Zealand industry and labour statistics manager Blair Cardno said.

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According to the government data agency, the trend for national guest nights has generally been declining since December 2009.

September's 1.4 per cent overall dip in hotel, motel and holiday park guest nights nationwide comes after strong trading in August, which had a 2.6 per cent lift.

In the North Island, there were 1.3 per cent fewer guest nights recorded than in August, with a 21 per cent plummet across Hawke's Bay and Gisborne from a year earlier. In Auckland, guest nights slipped 3.8 per cent. The South Island saw 0.9 per cent fewer guest nights with drops in Otago and Southland.

Contact Jazial Crossley
Business reporter
Email: jazial.crossley@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @msbananapeel

- © Fairfax NZ News

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