Taranaki lives up to its top tourist destination title

New Plymouth's Novotel Hobson hotel under construction.
Fairfax NZ

New Plymouth's Novotel Hobson hotel under construction.

Taranaki topped the list of New Zealand's premier tourist destinations last year and a recent report suggests the region continues to reign supreme.

Venture Taranaki (VT) has released its latest quarterly report and in it figures show the province has continued to attract the masses with its world-class events.

The number of guests nights spent with family and friends in Taranaki in 2014 were up almost five per cent from the previous year. 

In addition to the estimated 1.1 million guest nights clocked in at , Taranaki saw 553,209 guest nights spent in commercial accommodation.

Of the visitors who stayed with relatives and friends, 70 per cent were domestic travellers, while 87 per cent of tourists who stayed in commercial accommodation were also visiting from around New Zealand.

VT chief executive Stuart Trundle said the figures showed the region's visitor industry goes beyond commercial accommodation and was a significant contributor to our regional economy.

He said visitors to the region spent almost $59 million with retailers in the six-month period to December, $51 million of which came from domestic visitors while $8 million was spent by international guests.

"It's also a reflection of the strength and popularity of our events industry, the level of engineering project work in the region last year, and that Taranaki is growing as an accessible and affordable destination for families."

The increase in guest nights have come as no surprise to hotel developer Philip Brown.

The New Plymouth entrepreneur is about four months out from opening $22 million Novotel Hobson hotel on the corner of New Plymouth's Leach and Hobson streets.

In 2010 Brown, former Tenderlink owner, saw a gap in the commercial accommodation market.

Findings from a year-long market feasibility study showed guest nights would increase over the following five to 10 years, he said.

"And what we're seeing now is evidence of that increase."

"While the oil and gas industry and other industries are important there, has been a slow down in those sectors but there's obviously no evidence of that with guest nights, which is very promising."

Completion of the 100-room hotel was aimed for end of September but Brown said that date had now been pushed back about three weeks.

"The project has slipped out three to four weeks and it is now likely to be complete sometime in October. Other than that the project is on track and on budget."

In 2014 travel experience provider Experience Oz and NZ ranked Taranaki at the top of New Zealand's best destinations.

The region's famed surf breaks, green paddocks and rugged coastline beat the Coromandel and Milford Sound to the title.

 - Stuff

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