Motorsport events help to fuel city coffers
A Manawatu motorsport double-header this weekend is being touted as one of the biggest economic earners for Palmerston North this year, with motels as far afield as Levin full to the brim.
From February 8 to 10, Arena Manawatu will be hosting the Superstock Teams Championships, while the New Zealand Grand Prix will be on at the same time at Manfeild, in Feilding.
Palmerston North City Council economic policy adviser Peter Crawford said the stockcar event brought about $1.1 million into the city in 2008. "It's probably the biggest event we get each year."
Data showed the first weekend in February was the busiest weekend for parking in George St, he said.
"People were coming into town quite early, parking and, probably, spending money at shops."
Mr Crawford said event visitors were bringing money into the local economy.
"In 2008, we got data from Ticketek . . . and people from all around the country were coming.
"We even had people from Brisbane coming over for it."
Motels in Feilding and Palmerston North were sitting pretty, with many rooms being booked as early as June last year. The lack of space meant accommodation was filling up outside the city.
Castletown Motel owner Alan Baker said his Foxton 10-unit business had had increased demand, and was fully booked.
"I've got a meeting here over the weekend, so we were full before the stockcars started asking.
"We have got our own happenings over here as well."
When big motorsport events took place in Manawatu, it was common for smaller towns to pick up some business, he said.
"People can't get into Palmerston North, so it all backs up into Bulls, Foxton and Levin.
"Even if it's not the stockcar people [looking for a room], it's the people who can't get into Palmerston North because of the stockcars."
Nita Gardner, from Levin's Redwood Lodge Motel, said she was full on the Friday and Saturday nights.
But with some big events on in Levin this weekend - the medieval market and a 75th jubilee dahlia show - Ms Gardner said she had no idea where everyone would stay.
"Good God, there just won't be room for them.
"I know that when the sevens are on, we're booked out. Sanson and Bulls are the same.
"We end up having to send them as far as Whanganui."
According to figures from Palmerston North's i-Site, there are about 5300 guest beds in the city, in motels, hotels, apartments, backpackers, bed-and-breakfasts and campgrounds.