Great year for Dunedin hotels

Tourism is continuing to provide solid returns in Dunedin, with figures showing last year was the best in five years for hotels.

Industry figures say that situation should continue, with events and conferences keeping visitors coming to the city.

The Tourism Industry Association (TIA) yesterday released figures showing Dunedin had the third-highest hotel occupancy rate in New Zealand, with the city recording 73.6%, behind only Auckland at 82.2% and Wellington at 74.6%.

The TIA's eight Dunedin member hotels generated total 2014 revenue of $27 million, up $7 million on 2013.

The hotels include the Scenic Hotel Group, the Victoria Hotel, Park Regis Dunedin and Quest Dunedin.

Scenic Hotel Group area manager Richard de Graaf said the figures reflected the hotels' experience last year.

Also the TIA hotels Dunedin regional chairman, he said conferences and business guests were still coming to Dunedin while Christchurch was without a convention venue.

''That coincides with the town hall reopening after the big refurbishment,'' Mr de Graaf said, adding the town hall and Dunedin Centre complex would continue to do well while Christchurch and Queenstown lacked major convention centres.

The stadium was another asset attracting ''more and more'' visitors.

''That's really only in its infancy, what that is going to do for us - that's only going to get better and better.''

The international traveller market was continuing to recover from the global financial crisis, and hotels were benefiting from the increase in Chinese visitors.

As well, 2014 was a buoyant year in New Zealand.

Mr de Graaf said Dunedin was still ''an undiscovered jewel''.

Air access was limiting leisure travel within New Zealand, as were air fares that were ''never that friendly''.

That limited visitor numbers, but Mr de Graaf said visitors from the regions helped.

Invercargill and Central Otago provided guests, as did University of Otago graduations and visits by students' parents.

''I think we're doing pretty well.''

Quest Hotel manager Samantha Cavanagh agreed there had been an increase in occupancy and room rates.

This year had been on a par with last year, and approaching the busier season, occupancy and room rates had increased.

Regional Tourism Organisation Enterprise Dunedin director John Christie said the occupancy rates were good news for new entrants to the market and those planning developments.

The Local Government New Zealand conference and sporting and concert events coming to Dunedin next year meant strong occupancy figures should continue.

The TIA said New Zealand had more than 2.8 million visitors in 2014, up 5.1% on 2013.

Chief executive Chris Roberts said investors were responding to demand with ''more hotel developments around the country than we have seen for quite some time''.

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