Latest stats delight Tourism Waitaki

Ryan Neville and the Midnight Blues band performing at the Harbour Street Jazz and Blues Festival...
Ryan Neville and the Midnight Blues band performing at the Harbour Street Jazz and Blues Festival in March. The festival was a big factor in an increase in visitor numbers from 2023. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Come one, come all.

Tourism Waitaki released a report last week showing the sector is outperforming the national average in a range of categories.

Comparing the data from March 2023 to March 2024, commercial accommodation usage by both international and domestic visitors registered a 48% and 17% increase respectively.

Those numbers are more than double the national average of a 21% and 5% increase respectively.

Not only are more people visiting, but they are also staying for longer, with the average length of stay in commercial accommodation up from a year ago.

In the Waitaki region, domestic guest nights rose from 68,200 in March 2023 to 87,800 in March 2024, while international guest nights rose from 25,600 to 38,000 guest nights during the same period for a total rise of 23,000 guest nights.

Employment in the tourism industry was also up, with activity, travel and tour services achieving a 20% increase, while accommodation and food and beverage services’ saw a 7% increase and transport services’ had a 6% increase.

Tourism Waitaki consumer and trade marketing manager Jade Harvey was "super thrilled" with the numbers.

"It just shows what a positive impact that tourism is having on our economy.

"Encouraging people to come and visit, staying in our accommodation and then spending their money on our dining experiences, it’s great to see."

It was a testament to what the district had to offer visitors.

"Especially the festivals we have on throughout the year. Jazz and blues in March (the Harbour Street Jazz and Blues Festival) was huge and we had a great turnout for that.

"There’s a lot of excitement with the upcoming Steampunk Festival and we’ve got the new Waitaki Arts Trail [open weekend] happening the same weekend as well, so we’re expecting even higher visitor numbers over the coming months."

They appear to finally be over the hangover caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, she said.

"Earlier in the year, we had a lot of Chinese visitors return, especially for Chinese New Year in February. It’s taken a while for that market to return.

"It’s really positive to see the return of international markets, especially as we’re still recovering from the impact of Covid and what that has done to the infrastructure of tourism."