Queenstown hotels buck trend
A boost in the number of guests at Queenstown hotels helped fuel a 9.5 per cent rise in guest nights in Otago although nationwide the figure fell 0.3 per cent in May to 1.9 million, according to the latest Accommodation Survey.
Otago and Waikato had the best growth nationally during the month but Northland suffered a 24 per cent fall and Nelson/Marlborough/Tasman was down 6000 guest nights, or 15 per cent.
Rydges Hotel New Zealand manager John McIlwain said Queenstown had benefited from additional conferences since the Canterbury earthquakes. The Rydges Hotel in Queenstown had a 30 per cent lift in conference guest nights in the last financial year compared with the year before.
However, that was offset by a 30 per cent drop in coach tour guests as tour parties fell off, particularly from Australia.
"It's one step forward, one step back," McIlwain said. "Australians are going on long-haul trips to the UK, US and Europe because their exchange rate is so favourable and the coach market has been eroded by the cruise market, which is growing at a substantial rate. That trend is not doing us any good."
A good start to the ski season is expected to see a lift in tourist numbers in July/August in Queenstown and other parts of the South Island, especially because last year's ski season was affected by the fallout from ash clouds, he said.
The rise in tourists going on cruises instead of coach tours has also been blamed for a long-term drop in prices and guests at the country's motels.
When it comes to the type of accommodation people are staying in, guest nights in backpacker accommodation and holiday parks fell in May, according to the survey, while hotels and motels lifted. Backpacker accommodation was the worst hit, falling by 16,000 guest nights or 5.8 per cent, while holiday parks dropped 3.5 per cent to 9000. Hotels, which comprise the largest portion of the overall 1.9 million guest nights in May, were up 15,000 or 2.1 per cent.
Motels dropped 0.8 per cent in May and the trend has been a 3.6 per cent fall since a high point in August last year.
Motel Association CEO Michael Baines said a number of factors were hurting motel owners including the high Australian dollar, which had put "Disneyland at the end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge".
He also cited the cruise ship markets as impacting on motel guest nights for the past two to three years.
In addition, hotels, faced with overcapacity, had been marketing to the traditional customer base of motels, Baines said.
`With what they're doing they're not picking up a lot of customers but it is dampening down prices," he said. The survey also showed a slight drop in international guest nights, down 2.7 per cent, while domestic guest nights rose 1 per cent to 1.2 million. The International Travel and Migration statistics show 140,800 short-term visitors arrived in New Zealand in May, which was up by 100 or less than 1 per cent on the same month the previous year.
Auckland had the highest occupancy rate at 55.3 per cent, (down 2.7 percentage points), followed by Wellington on 53.3 per cent (down 1.4 percentage points), and Canterbury at 41.3 per cent (down 1.8 percentage points). Fairfax NZ
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