Guest nights down after earthquakes

Lower guest-night figures for July show that despite the welcome arrival of snow, Queenstown and the wider Otago region were still suffering in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes.

Driven predominantly by a decrease in international visitors to the South Island compared with last July, the drop was most evident in Canterbury, which was down 20% (70,000 nights), according to Statistics New Zealand.

However, Otago also posted an overall 2.1% (5000 nights) decrease, of which regional tourism organisation data showed Queenstown posted a 10.4% downturn. This translated to 28,455 guest nights lost, down from 274,589 nights in July 2010, and tipped the Otago balance into negative, despite increased domestic guest nights for the Otago region. Domestic guest nights for Otago leapt by 21,000 this July (14%).

Destination Queenstown chief executive Tony Everitt said the Queenstown downturn again came down to the "lingering effects" of the Christchurch earthquake and the late start to the ski season.

However, he said DQ was now looking forward, and in particular focusing at taking part in a summer tourism drive directed at bringing visitors from Australia's eastern seaboard over for a South Island road trip.

"We are really excited. It's a $1.6 million campaign along with Tourism New Zealand ... and it's the biggest campaign Destination Queenstown has ever been involved with."

The figures followed similar trends for June, with guest nights in Queenstown falling from 144,440 in 2010 to 119,899 this year, a 17% decrease.

Mr Everitt said it was too early to tell if the numbers were recovering, but said DQ had heard anecdotally that "it was not a bad kind of August".

"A couple of days ago, we got the national figures in and they are up 4 or 5% on last August, so that takes into account the Aussies coming in ... but we will have to wait and see."

 

 

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