Queenstown appears to be bucking the national tourism
trend by enjoying an increase in international visitor spending
while New Zealand, as a whole, suffers a sharp drop.
The quarterly international visitor survey released this week
by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment
revealed a 6% decrease in spending by international visitors
since 2011, with a total spend of $5.42 billion.
The year to December 2012 data showed spending by
international visitors was at its lowest since 2001.
However, Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd
said ''the national picture isn't a reflection of what's been
happening in Queenstown'', when asked to comment yesterday.
Visitor numbers from around the country and overseas this
summer were anecdotally strong in Wakatipu, backed by 75.2%
hotel occupancy in January, up from 70.8% of January last
year and 73.8% in January 2011, according to the Tourism
Industry Association last week.
Ministry tourism research and evaluation manager Peter Ellis
said the fall in national spending could be partly attributed
to a 2% drop in visitor numbers over the same period, as well
as poor global economic conditions and the strong New Zealand
Mr Ellis said 2011 was a relatively good year for
international tourism because of the Rugby World Cup, which
overall outweighed the other challenges of the year, but
tourist spending last year returned to the decline which was
happening before the cup.
''The most significant aspects of the drop in spending are a
decrease in UK visitors' spend, and in the total amount that
holiday visitors are spending,'' Mr Ellis said.
Meanwhile, China was confirmed as New Zealand's second
largest tourist market after Australia.
Spending by Chinese visitors increased by 42%, exceeding
ministry forecasts, he said.
Tourism New Zealand explained the drop in international
visitor spending was a result of the change in visitor mix
and increased spending in 2011 by visitors attending the
Rugby World Cup.
''The increase in travellers visiting family and relatives,
or 'VFR', decrease in the average length of stay and a strong
New Zealand dollar are all contributing to a decline in total
spend,'' chief executive Kevin Bowler said this week.
''Australia and China provide our two biggest sources of
visitors. However, these markets also have a high proportion
of VFR and tend to stay for shorter lengths of time than the
''We continue to focus our efforts on increasing spend,
particularly in the China market, with initiatives like the
Premiere Kiwi Partnership programme, that markets
longer-stay, higher-value itineraries to free and independent
Mr Bowler said the upside was the Japanese market continuing
to show signs of recovery, with total spending up 31% to $273
''The economic situation in Europe, and New Zealand's high
exchange rate, has understandably impacted on long-haul
arrivals and level of spend ... expenditure from the UK down
21% and US down 7%.''
Mr Budd said early indications were Queenstown experienced
some visitor spending growth in December and for the year
ending December, as opposed to the national decline.
''I think it correlates with the visitor number data we've
seen to date, so we've got two key indicators in terms of how
well we're doing - the number of visitors and how much
they're spending,'' he said.
''Through the commercial accommodation monitor, visitor
arrivals and other data, we've been seeing year-on-year
growth in domestic and international visitor numbers in the
last 12 months.
''Now with this end-of-year end spend data, what we can say
is that growth in visitors is being reflected in the money
they're spending, so it's a very pleasing result for us.''
Mr Budd said he thought the resort was not yet entirely clear
of the impacts of the major earthquake in Christchurch, two
years ago today. International visitors tended to travel
around the stricken gateway city, helped by the rise in
direct Queenstown flights, which also affected where they
stayed, which was also a dividend for the resort.
Chinese New Year holidays, which began on February 10,
continue into next week. Anecdotally, the festive season had
capitalised on the already growing number of Chinese visitors
to Queenstown, Mr Budd said.
Destination Queenstown adopted a ''light-handed approach'' by
sending a sign which said ''Happy New Year'' in Mandarin as a
computer file to its members. It also served to prompt
members to get them thinking how they were welcoming New Year
visitors, he said.
Mr Budd said the question to be discussed before the next
Chinese New Year was whether Queenstown needed to do any more
than display signs and lantern decorations and have frontline
staff trained to exchange Chinese pleasantries.
''They're not necessarily coming here expecting to have a big
Chinese New Year parade. They're coming here because of what
and who we are, so we'll do more analysis and talk to our
members over the next few months to see if it is appropriate
we do any more, or if we actually don't need to.''