Hot summer gives parks a boost
Canterbury holiday park owners are generally optimistic, with some planning to invest more in their operations.
Canterbury parks have been doing well as a result of the lack of hotel accommodation in earthquake-damaged Christchurch.
They had also benefited from the hot, dry summer, with a guest nights for the peak month of January likely to be about 1.5 million for the country, Holiday Parks Association (HAPNZ) chief executive Fergus Brown said.
This compared with typical guest night totals for December and February of 900,000 and 700,000 respectively.
Recent Statistics New Zealand figures show that for November, occupancy rates at holiday parks remained the lowest among the accommodation styles, which include hotels and motels, at 13.4 per cent throughout the country.
Brown said many of the holiday park businesses were profitable, with some held for many years by the same family.
"Some of the smaller parks are more of a lifestyle option; some are still making good money,'' he said.
"I think what we're seeing is more and more younger people getting into the business and turning them into good businesses."
HAPNZ had introduced a "business confidence monitor" to regularly assess the mood of its 300 holiday parks and measure trends.
Results from the first of the monthly series showed a +44 score on the business confidence index, meaning 44 per cent more respondents were optimistic rather than pessimistic.
Confidence for the next 12 months was even higher at +50.
Brown said summer trading to date has been solid around the country, with better weather than last summer boosting business.
In some South Island locations, Kiwis had arrived earlier to have "Christmas at the park".
However, the global economy was continuing to have an impact on the number of international visitors using holiday parks.
Jackie Anderson, of the Christchurch Top 10 Holiday Park, said her family-owned business had cleared all budget accommodation units of workers related to the quake rebuild, with the intention of opening them up for tourism-related groups this year.
She was pleased with bookings, with tourists returning to Canterbury.
There were plans to expand the park's 87 guest rooms by 30.
"We've got many bookings going right through to October. It's good because we're going back to what we really do," Anderson said.
Debbie Jefcoate, of the Waikuku Beach Holiday Park, said the park was getting a greater mix of international tourists rather than the English, Australian, German and Dutch guests common eight years ago.
In recent years, there had been a lot more variety, with visitors from France, Switzerland and Spain heading the list.
"During the summer we're quite busy. As soon as the kids go back to school, it dies right down, but then you start getting the older couples that live in New Zealand and they do their little Tiki Tour around in February and March. We stay fairly busy with that," she said.
Revenues in December and January were up 9.3 per cent from the previous corresponding months, without any camping fee increase, she said.
"Year-to-date revenues from April 1 are up 12.1 per cent, which is partly due to high occupancy in our cabins over winter due to the temporary housing shortage in the greater Christchurch area," she said.