Waikato accommodation providers have bucked the national trend with a "very positive" increase in the number of nights visitors have stayed in the past year, but more can still be done.
The latest Commercial Accommodation Monitor (CAM) statistics show the Waikato region, including Hamilton, experienced a 4.4 per cent increase in guest nights for the year to June 30, compared with a national decrease of 0.2 per cent.
The region did particularly well in June, when there was a 12.6 per cent increase in guest nights on June 2011's figures, compared with a 4.4 per cent increase for the month nationally.
Hamilton and Waikato Tourism chief executive Kiri Goulter said growth of 5.7 per cent for international guests and 4.1 per cent for domestic guests was "very positive".
"This is a fantastic result in what has been a challenging year for the industry."
She attributed the success to a combination of strong business tourism and sport-related events, including the Rugby World Cup, the film industry, regional campaigns and an extended summer season.
Ms Goulter was also pleased with growth attained in specific areas, including Hamilton city (up 7.3 per cent), which, according to the figures, showed guests were staying longer than in the past.
Bella Vista Hamilton owner Roger Buller said Hamilton and Waikato Tourism had "started with nothing" and were working hard to build Hamilton as a tourist destination city but said it was primarily "events and conferences" that were driving the increase in guest nights.
"The Rugby World Cup was a waste of time, at least for motel owners," he said.
It was positive that the events that had been good for motels were ones that could be repeated annually, so the growth was not a one-off, he said. However, the recession had hit the Waikato motel industry hard, so he was not "holding his breath" for a quick return to pre-recession guest rates.
Outside Hamilton, the Matamata Piako area had experienced a 6.4 per cent increase, which Ms Goulter put largely down to the filming of The Hobbit near Matamata.
- Waikato Times