Motels welcome support in school holidays

The new Dunedin Palms Motel keeps the Art Deco style of its predecessor on the High St site....
The new Dunedin Palms Motel. Photo Bruce Munro.
Strong domestic support over the school holiday period is keeping Dunedin accommodation providers afloat, Otago Motel Associa0tion president Alex Greenan says.

Cautious optimism prevailed in the tourism-dependent sector after the relief of a strong fortnight.

Mr Greenan, who is also the owner of Dunedin Palms Motel, said his motel was on average at 70% capacity over the school holidays.

WHe estimated across the board accommodation businesses were earning about 60% compared with the corresponding time last year.

"It’s a wee bit scary what’s going to happen on the other side of the school holidays, but we really do appreciate the people coming out and supporting us," he said.

"I know that there’s a lot of good, cheap deals for them at the moment, but it’s win-win.

"The customer gets a good deal and it keeps us afloat so we’re there the next time."

The Highlander-Crusaders game had brought visitors from Canterbury, but Queenstown and Invercargill visitors were in the city as were those from across the South Island.

"It’s a marked improvement on where we were two weeks ago.

"We’re in a precarious position anyway. We’ve still got some major overheads."

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan said despite not having the skifields of Queenstown and Wanaka, Dunedin’s school holidays had been buoyed by a strong programme of events and activities to bring in out-of-towners and bring out locals.

"Most definitely for a lot of businesses they have been pleasantly surprised about the activity they are having or have had post-Covid," he said.

"They are a little bit worried about that September-October time when there may be more job losses in the wider sector so there is less of that money going around."

Royal Albatross Centre marketing manager and Dunedin city councillor Sophie Barker said the Otago Peninsula Trust had put together a "Funedin" festival with 20 events over the period and had hoped to attract not only Dunedin families, but "that four-hour drive market".

During school holidays, Dunedin continued to make up the largest share of the centre’s visitors at 22.74%, but Auckland (19.12%), Canterbury (17.42%), other North Island (12.44%) and Otago (7.01%) were all well represented.

"This year is such a huge challenge, and we’ve actually been just a little bit below what we took last school holidays, so we’re very happy with that — a relief because we have to make money where we can before the extreme desert, and ‘off period’."

Larnach Castle sales and marketing manager Deborah Price said she could not give "an exact percentage" but this year’s school holiday period had been busier than last year’s, despite the first three days when rain "bucketed down".

"We’re a little worried about next Monday, but it really has lifted our spirits, actually.

"It’s really heartening."

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