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Tuesday, 23 April 2019 10:00 am

Activities, events outside peak season help Otago tourism

queenstown top

A landscape view of Queenstown from Bob’s Peak. Photo: Lawrence Murray (Wikipedia)

OFF-PEAK tourism is helping the consistently rising Otago visitor numbers say two Queenstown businesses.

Guest nights are up by an average of 6.5% over the year to October, according to a the latest accommodation survey by Statistics New Zealand.

For the month of October guest nights have risen nearly 20% over two years, from 330,000 to 391,000 between 2013 and 2015.

The increase was spread across all four accommodation – hotel, motel, backpackers and holiday parks – according to Statistics NZ.

It is also throughout both the summer and winter months, say local businesses.

Jim Bailey from Sir Cedric’s Southern Laughter backpackers said he thought part of the off-season success was due to local events.

“There’s a few more events that are in town like the Queenstown marathon in mid-November, that packed out the town. They had 20,000 competing in it, something crazy like that.

“The last two years has just been definitely been increasingly busier, sure. Those quieter months are definitely a lot busier than they used to be.”

As a backpackers they had quite a few New Zealand visitors staying while working in construction, because there was not enough affordable rental accommodation available.

“There’s a lot of building work going on at the moment, so there’s a lot of jobs.”

The Dairy Private Hotel has only been open for business for six weeks, with owner Richard Buitenhek saying he “saw an opportunity.”

“We’ve obviously watched our tourism numbers grow dramatically in New Zealand over the course of the last several years and that has been particularly true of Queenstown.

“Part of the appeal of Queenstown is it’s non seasonal.

“We’re seeing visitors over the summer and winter period, there’s a year round demand for tourists from all over the world.

He said typically the Australian market is much more prominent over the winter months during the ski season.

“During the summer months it tends to be more the Americans and Brits to do things like Milford sound and the Routeburn track.”

Dianne Smith has owned the local Queenstown Motel apartments for over 20 years and noticed the increase in tourism over the past few years.

“I think that for a start it’s because we’ve been promoting Queenstown as a destination for many years.

“It’s also because of the airlines, there’s more flights coming into Queenstown and they’re more affordable.

“Queenstown’s a popular destination for tourists. We’re winning lots of awards with Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor, we’ve got a good reputation for looking after our tourists.”

National guest nights spent in short-term commercial accommodation were up 2.9 percent in October 2015, compared with October 2014. This is the 19th consecutive month of rises.

North Island guest nights were up 1.9 percent, and South Island guest nights were up 4.6 percent.

Domestic guest nights were up 2.1 percent, and international guest nights were up 4.3 percent.

New Zealand recently hit a milestone with a record 3.04 million visitors to the country in the year to September, and the year to October has beaten that by 20,000 according to most recent stats NZ travel and migration reports.

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