Dunedin tourism operators will be happy just to maintain
the status quo this year, in what they describe as a tough
Visitor numbers have been declining since a peak about four
years ago, and those in Dunedin's tourism industry do not
expect an increase any time soon.
Many were happy to have maintained annual visitor numbers in
2012, given the previous year's Rugby World Cup.
But some were not so lucky.
Taieri Gorge Railway chief executive Murray Bond said
business was declining and he did not expect an improvement
until at least 2014.
''A lot of people are avoiding Dunedin at the moment for
reasons related to Christchurch and the lack of accommodation
in Christchurch, as well as the general economic situation
and the high dollar.
''The numbers we get off cruise ships are slightly up, but
general tourist numbers are significantly down because the
market is extremely difficult at the moment,'' he said.
The company limited its trips, and the number of carriages,
to ''minimise any financial damage'', Mr Bond said.
In the year to June 30, 2012, it carried 79,958 passengers -
an increase of 3.2% on the previous 12 months.
But numbers had since declined and in the six months to
December 31, 2012, they were down 9% on the previous
Mr Bond said numbers for the year to June 30 would be 5% or
6% less than in the previous 12 months.
Larnach Castle had also noticed a decline of about 5%.
Actual numbers were not disclosed, but sales and marketing
manager Deborah Price said last year was tough and it was
hoped visitor numbers in the 12 months to June 30 would rival
those of the 2011 financial year.
To date, there was a 1% increase on the corresponding time
last year, she said.
Royal Albatross Centre manager Annie Villiers said visitor
numbers had trended ''slightly'' downward since 2007.
''There may be reasons for this other than a drop in visitor
numbers to Dunedin generally, as other tourist operators for
example have been established on the peninsula during that
time, which may influence the spread of visitors to each
attraction,'' she said.
Otago Museum collections research and experience director
Clare Wilson said visitors to the Tropical Forest attraction
Last year, 87,586 people went through, slightly more than the
85,847 in 2011.
In 2010, the forest had 87,600 visitors, and 98,000 in 2009.
''We are confident the forest has embedded itself as a
popular experience and that's why we are seeing a stable
visitor base,'' Ms Wilson said.
Speight's Brewery tour manager Chris Snow said there had been
less than a 1% change in visitor numbers since 2011, which
pleased him considering the ''tough'' tourism market.
''We had about 31,000 people on the tour both in 2011 and
2012, which is an improvement on 2010 when we had about
''We've been really lucky to have Contiki coming back to
Dunedin and to be included in those tours, which keeps our
numbers steady,'' he said.
He had noticed ''a bit'' of growth in the cruise ship market
recently and expected overall tour numbers to remain static
this year, Mr Snow said.
Cadbury World had 116,000 visitors last year and the same
number in 2011, up from the 2010 figure of 114,500 but down
from 119,000 visitors in 2009.
Dunedin Chinese Garden manager Margo Reid was ''extremely
happy'' with the results for the six months to December 2012,
visitor numbers being almost 3000 higher than the previous
The garden had 14,156 visitors between July and December last
year, and 11,454 visitors between July and December 2011.
But bad weather for last year's Chinese New Year celebrations
had affected visitor numbers overall, Ms Reid said.
There were 662 fewer visitors to the Chinese garden last year
(30,945) than in 2011 (31,607), and both those figures were a
drop from the 34,900 visitors in 2010 and 47,000 in 2009.
''Over the last six months, our revenue streams have been
good and that will be because our numbers are up on this time
last year, but comparatively they should be higher if people
are spending the same amount of money on extras like
''The visitors aren't doing this and we are hearing the same
from other operators and retailers as well,'' Ms Reid said.
Tourism Dunedin chief executive Hamish Saxton said the
ongoing global financial crisis meant the continued decline
of ''traditional'' markets which the local visitor economy
was reliant on, including the United Kingdom, Europe and
''The lack of quality accommodation in Christchurch, coupled
with the increase in short-stay visitors from new markets, is
resulting in growth to the North Island,'' he said.
But Dunedin was seeing more cruise ship and coach tour
passengers than previously, as well as a slight increase in
the average length of stay, Mr Saxton said.
More Christchurch and Canterbury residents were visiting
Dunedin, which was becoming the South Island's ''premier
urban experience'', he said.
''Dunedin offers a compelling holiday experience and, in
spite of the economic conditions, I consider that the visitor
economy is doing a really fine job in demonstrating its
resilience and adaptability,'' he said.