February was a blockbuster month for tourism in
Queenstown with more domestic and international tourists
visiting the Wakatipu basin and staying longer.
However, Queenstown's marketing body believes there is still
plenty of room for growth and wants to boost guest nights in
the quieter months between summer and winter to become a
resort for all seasons.
The high exchange rate for the New Zealand dollar also means
spending by tourists may not be as great as operators would
Guest nights rose 9.9% to 2,824,092 for the year ended
February 2014, compared with 2013, which recorded similarly
strong year-on-year growth on 2012, Statistics New Zealand
The official commercial accommodation monitor for February
recorded a 12% increase in international guest nights to
1,858,567 compared with a year earlier, while domestic guest
nights rose 6.2% to 965,526.
The average length of stay in Queenstown increased from 2.54
nights to 2.60 nights.
The overall occupancy rate rose from 52.9% to 56.5% and
accommodation capacity, excluding holiday parks, rose 2.7%.
Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd said
yesterday the statistics were ''pleasing'' and the data
supported what regional tourism organisation staff were
hearing during the peak summer month of February.
The Spirit of Queenstown, operated by Southern Discoveries,
was one of Queenstown's new attractions in the past summer.
Photo by James Beech.
The guest night increases are ''really significant when
you consider that these are now compounding year-on-year
''Last year, 2013 over 2012, we also had an increase of over
10% in guest nights, so this year again is growing on a 10%
growth on last year and now we've got growth again.
''Even if we look across the prior months, we've now had well
over 12 months of year-on-year growth, so they are really
Mr Budd said for the first time the year-on-year results did
not include one-off national or international events, which
distorted guest night figures. The stable timeframe was
showing true, unimpeded and sustained growth, he said.
''Perhaps most importantly, the effects of the GFC (global
financial crisis) did hold back markets like the United
States for several years and they have really bounced back
Mr Budd said a high exchange rate affected the amount of
disposable cash visitors had to spend.
''We would hope and expect a lower-valued dollar would turn
into greater daily spend and that would be probably the next
important variable that would improve even further the
All four airlines serving Queenstown Airport have announced
seasonal increases in passenger capacity from Brisbane,
Sydney and Melbourne.
''I still see a huge opportunity, both domestically and out
of Australia, to grow the non-peak shoulder seasons of autumn
and springtime, so I think there's a lot of room for growth
yet,'' Mr Budd said.