Hoteliers happy with bookings

Tourism Industry Association Queenstown hotels regional chairwoman and Goldridge Resort general manager Penny Clark says hotel managers are anticipating more ''dream time'' bookings from Australians. Photo by James Beech.
Tourism Industry Association Queenstown hotels regional chairwoman and Goldridge Resort general manager Penny Clark says hotel managers are anticipating more ''dream time'' bookings from Australians. Photo by James Beech.
Queenstown hoteliers are ''fairly confident'' about bookings for winter 2014, after experiencing a record-breaking summer.

Penny Clark, Queenstown hotels regional chairwoman of the Tourism Industry Association and general manager of Goldridge Resort, said the managers of the 18 three- to five-star member hotels were encouraged by announcements Qantas and Jetstar would increase flights from Australia to Queenstown for the ski season.

''The bookings are consistently coming in well. I wouldn't say they are rolling in, but the TV campaign for winter ski this year is running later than normal and happening after Easter,'' Ms Clark said.

''This is what we in the hotel, and even ski, industry call `dream time'. It's this time when it's starting to get colder over in Australia and they start dreaming about their winter holiday and skiing. We think that's a good time to try to nab them into making bookings, but the major campaign is going afterwards.

''Individual operators' campaigns will start before that, so I'm expecting it will really kick in that week after Anzac Day and Easter.''

The cluster of national holidays coincides with three big drawcards to the district in mid to late April - the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow

(April 18-20), the 30th anniversary Arrowtown Autumn Festival

(April 24-May 4) and the Queenstown Blues and Roots Festival (April 26).

Statistics New Zealand's commercial accommodation monitor figures for December 2013 show total Queenstown guest nights for year-end 2013 rose 8.4% to 2,756,149.

From January 2013, every month recorded an increase over the prior year, resulting in a record high for the year.

International guest nights were up 10.1% to 1,807,837, accounting for 65.6% of all guest nights in the Queenstown regional tourism area. Domestic guest nights rose 5.2% to 948,312, making up 34.4% of total guest nights for the same period. The average length of stay rose from 2.55 nights to 2.59 nights.

In January 2014, compared with January 2013, guest nights rose 12.3% to 316,913, Statistics NZ said. International guest nights rose 15.3% to 207,964, while domestic guest nights rose 7% to 108,949. However, the average length of stay fell from 2.47 nights to 2.45 nights.

Overall occupancy rose from 65.2% to 70.2%. Accommodation capacity, excluding holiday parks, rose 4.2%.

Ms Clark said anecdotally more people from New Zealand's traditional Western visitor markets visited Queenstown's hotels last summer than in previous summers.

''The US, Germany, England, even East Europeans, and the Australians, those numbers are all up for Queenstown, so that has counteracted the new mix of Asia that's down slightly, because European destinations have discounts on,'' she said.

''We've got to keep our fingers on the pulse as to what's happening in Korea and some of our other Asian markets to make sure we don't go off the boil just because China has appeared on the horizon.''