Resort chalks up record December

BROOKE GARDINER IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 05:00 13/02/2013

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Last year was a record breaker for Queenstown with guest nights reaching an all-time high, but tourism chief Graham Budd said there is still work to be done.

Figures released by Statistics New Zealand yesterday show Queenstown's all-time high guest nights for December added to a record breaking year for the resort.

According to the Commercial Accommodation Monitor, total visitor nights for the month of December were up 9.6 per cent to 264,049 compared with December 2011. December 2011 was the previous record holder for that month, with 240,880 visitor nights.

International guest nights were up 9.4 per cent to 177,572, accounting for 67.2 per cent of all guest nights in the area. Domestic guest nights were up 10.1 per cent to 86,477.

Hotels, motels and apartments were the key sectors to benefit, with hotels experiencing 16.7 per cent growth and motels and apartments 21.1 per cent.

A year-on-year comparison ending December 2012 shows overall guest nights were up 5.8 per cent to 2,543,499 with a 2.7 percent increase in international guest nights and an 11.8 per cent increase in domestic guest nights.

Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd said while he was delighted with the overall number of guest nights, there was still work to be done as some sectors of the accommodation market had not enjoyed the same level of growth.

"Holiday park numbers have declined in December, while hotel and motel guest nights have driven the growth.

"Success for us is when everyone is benefiting from growth," Mr Budd said.

He attributed the increase in domestic and international guests to a combination of increased air services, good marketing and the resort providing good value for money. He said the 2011 Rugby World Cup had "no effect whatsoever".

"For Queenstown, the Rugby World Cup has had no legacy effect in terms of visitor numbers."

While the Rugby World Cup did not contribute to the growth in guest nights, he believed the Canterbury earthquakes were still having a residual effect on Queenstown guest nights.

"Part of the mix in 2012 may be continuing effects of visitor patterns following the Christchurch earthquakes."

The visitor experience offered by Christchurch, while improving, still presented difficulties, he said.

"I don't like to say this on the record, but it's a reality."

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