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Drop in Timaru visitors after boom

JOANNE BENNETT
Last updated 05:00 18/01/2014
Timaru tourism
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/Fairfax NZ

TOURING TOWN: Tourists Olivia George, 12, Libby Napier, 9, Alice Napier, 9, and Charlotte Hopcroft, 13, are visiting Timaru from Gore for the Colgate Games. They have enjoyed going to the pet shop, art gallery and the surf shop. More than 250,000 visitors are expected to come to Timaru this year.

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After a tourist boom in 2011 and 2012 following the Canterbury earthquakes, visitor numbers to the Timaru district fell by nearly 6 per cent last year.

The number of nights people stayed in accommodation in the district fell 5.8 per cent for the year ending in October to 260,497 from 2012's peak number of 276,481 guest nights.

Tourism manager Katerina Tiscenko said the numbers were still positive.

"The figures are still healthy. When compared to last year, there was a high base. It's still trending upwards."

For the same period, international visitor arrival numbers to New Zealand are up 5 per cent compared with the previous year.

"After the earthquake, a lot of people came to Timaru because of the lack of infrastructure in Christchurch," Ms Tiscenko said.

"Events were held here, people came for shopping and respite holidays, and they became more aware of what Timaru has to offer.

"There's also been major projects bringing in international visitors, such as the broadband rollout and more immigrant workers in the dairy industry."

Although the annual figures are down, for the months of October and November 2013, visitor numbers in the region were up significantly on 2012, by 15 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

Most tourists come from Australia, followed by China, the UK, US and Japan.

"As a region we're doing really well. There's new attractions that are growing in popularity, and many businesses are working hard to develop, and putting resources into building their websites."

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- The Timaru Herald

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