Fewer guests, more spending

Big events in the city in the year to March 31 last year, such as concerts, which were likely to attract people to the city, could be a factor. Photo: ODT file
Big events in the city in the year to March 31 last year, such as concerts, which were likely to attract people to the city, could be a factor. Photo: ODT file

Last year’s ‘‘magnificent concerts’’ and the rise of non-commercial accommodation may be a factor in a decrease of guest nights in Dunedin in the year to March 31.

Data released from Infometrics this week revealed guest nights in commercial accommodation were down 1.6% in the period, compared with the year to March 31, 2018.

Commercial accommodation included hotels, motels, holiday parks and backpackers. The data, which was sourced from Statistic’s New Zealand’s Accommodation Survey, showed 15,439 fewer people stayed in the city during the period.

Visitors stayed a total of 928,480 nights in the year to March 31, 2019, and 943,919 in the previous year.

A guest night is equivalent to one guest spending one night at an establishment.

Big events in the city in the year to March 31 last year, such as concerts, which were likely to attract people to the city, could be a factor, a Statistics New Zealand spokesman said.

Robbie Williams performed at Forsyth Barr Stadium in February last year, and Ed Sheeran performed two sell-out concerts at the end of March that year.

Otago Motel Association president Alex Greenan said it was hard to tell if the drop was a trend because the data gauged only commercial accommodation and did not include other accommodation such as Airbnb.

He was unsure whether last year’s concerts would have affected the data, as February and March were busy months anyway.

The Infometrics report stated the drop could indicate a growing importance of peer-to-peer accommodation, such as Airbnb.

Airbnb head of public policy ANZ Brent Thomas said ‘‘our community of local hosts . . . helps grow the tourism pie by making travel more accessible for more people’’.

Enterprise Dunedin director John Christie said the data showed a diverging trend in guest nights and visitor spend (up 2.7%).

The widening gap might be partially due to an increase in cruise ship passengers — from 254,750 in the 2017-18 season to 352,148 in the last season.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan said guest nights were likely to vary each year, especially in a period such as the year to March 2018, when there were three ‘‘magnificent concerts’’ at the stadium.

JESSICA.WILSON@thestar.co.nz 

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