Dunedin tourism 'sitting comfortably'

Dunedin is punching above its weight in attracting visitors, as shown in the latest accommodation occupancy statistics.

The Tourism Industry Association (TIA) presented occupancy data during its regional roadshow in Dunedin yesterday.

Its seven member hotels in Dunedin collectively had 63% occupancy and an average room rate of $124.60 last year, which indicated the city's tourism industry was stable and growing, TIA hotels sector manager Rachael Shadbolt said.

''Dunedin has bucked the national trend with sustained rates growth over two years,'' she said.

The Rugby World Cup in 2011 inflated room rates nationwide and last year they dropped again throughout most of the country.

But in Dunedin, the average room rate at TIA member hotels had continued to increase from $120 in 2010 and $124 in 2011.

''That's not happening elsewhere so Dunedin is doing quite well in that area and sitting comfortably,'' Ms Shadbolt said.

Forsyth Barr Stadium was credited with helping to boost visitor numbers through recreational and corporate events.

Nationally, 2012 was ''relatively uneventful'' and hotels had to adjust to bookings being made at short notice, as well as people remaining ''price-conscious'', Ms Shadbolt said.

Christchurch's post-earthquake hotel occupancy rate of 81.6%, due to constrained capacity, pushed the national average to 69.9% last year.

Although Dunedin's rate was lower, the city was performing better than most other centres and should not be compared with the ''skewed'' national average, Ms Shadbolt said.

Tourism Dunedin chief executive Hamish Saxton said the city's overall occupancy rates were healthy, although there were still large seasonal fluctuations in demand.

In March, 66% of all Dunedin accommodation was occupied, and excluding holiday parks, the figure was 73%.

There was 79.2% occupancy in the city's hotels that month, up from 71.6% in March 2012.

Backpackers also experienced an increase to 69.4%, from 64.8% last March.

''The good news is these increases are indicative of good corporate business, good leisure business and the events that have been occurring over the last wee while at the stadium,'' Mr Saxton said.

The TIA roadshow will be in Queenstown today.

- rosie.manins@odt.co.nz

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