Good weather, more flights lift hotel occupancy figures

Good weather and increased flight capacity into Queenstown are credited with boosting hotel occupancy in the Wakatipu in January, the Tourism Industry Association says.

Occupancy for the month was 75.2%, markedly up from 70.8% of January last year and January 2011's 73.8%.

The average daily rate was $150.42 last month, the middle ground between January last year at $153.25 and January 2011 at $148.44.

The association announced a significant 11-point increase to 66% in the free independent traveller sector room nights in the resort in January 2013 offset decreases in the tour, conference and incentive markets.

Australian room nights were up 3.2 points to 22.1% and the United States market was up 4.2 points to 9.9%. The association found the fine summer weather helped around the country, with total national occupancy for hotel sector members in January at 71.8% one of the highest rates recorded in the past five years.

Chief executive Martin Snedden said the great weather encouraged people to extend their holidays and resulted in higher domestic tourism across many of the association's eight hotel regions.

''Holiday regions like Queenstown and Central Park - Taupo, Ruapehu, Napier and Gisborne - enjoyed good summer holiday business, with visitors arriving earlier than normal, almost immediately after Christmas.

''This business continued well into the new year.''

As a result, corporate business picked up a little later in January than usual, although some regions had already enjoyed good conference and event business.

Nationally, hotel average room rates were on a par with January 2012 at $135 but showed significant strengthening on the $127 of January 2011.

Despite the good January results, some hoteliers said increased operating costs impacted significantly on profits.

Accor Hospitality vice-president, New Zealand and Fiji, Garth Simmons said hotels were being forced to absorb cost increases because management did not feel able to pass them on to guests.

''Coupled with ever-increasing expectations from guests about rate inclusions, especially internet and Wi-Fi, this continues to make for challenging trading conditions,'' Mr Simmons said.