Graduations are a 'significant contributor' to Dunedin's
domestic visitor spending figures. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Dunedin is attracting more domestic visitors, who are
pushing monthly spending to record highs.
The latest regional tourism data collated by the Ministry of
Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) shows monthly
spending in Dunedin by outsiders peaked late last year.
In October and December more was spent in the city by
domestic visitors than in those months in previous years
since records began in 2008.
Also, spending in November 2013 was the second highest for
that month since 2008.
Growth in Dunedin was stronger than throughout most of New
Zealand, which overall had an 8% increase in domestic
spending last year compared with 2008.
Data was based on electronic card transactions.
It did not distinguish whether New Zealand visitors to
Dunedin were par- taking in tourism activities, or came to
the city for other reasons such as business.
There were several conferences in Dunedin late last year, as
well as graduations and sporting events.
Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said
those events in particular would have significantly
influenced domestic visitor spending figures.
The reopening of the Dunedin Centre and Dunedin Town Hall
complex had put Dunedin ''back on the list'' in terms of
conferences and other events, he said.
''The domestic tourism market is an important part of the mix
for us. The accommodation sector saw some pretty good numbers
at the back end of last year, especially in December, and
student graduations were a significant contributor to that.''
Consumer confidence was also increasing, as was job security,
which meant people were more likely to travel for leisure and
spend more, Mr Christie said.
He expected another spike in domestic visitors to Dunedin in
February, when tertiary students arrived - often accompanied
by their parents.
Christmas shopping helped boost spending in Otago to more
than $270 million in December, as shown in Paymark data.
There was anecdotal evidence some people from outside Dunedin
travelled to the city to shop for Christmas presents, and as
such their transactions would be included in domestic visitor
Tourism Dunedin chief executive Hamish Saxton said the
general increase in spending shown by MBIE data supported a
positive trend in commercial accommodation figures for
The data made him ''cautiously optimistic'' about the city's
improving tourism economy, he said.
''From a commercial accommodation perspective we've still got
a way to go, although we are heading in the right direction.
The spend and the increasing amount of business to the city
is obviously a good thing, and overall our current operating
environment appears to be a more positive one,'' he said.
He also cited Dunedin's new events facilities, and ongoing
issues in earth-quake-ravaged Christchurch, as likely
contributors to domestic visitor growth.