Queenstown’s visitor numbers likely to stay low till November

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Queenstown accommodation providers are picking November for a turn-around in visitor numbers after another dismal month.

Destination Queenstown has just released research from Statistics New Zealand showing that total visitor nights in August were down 2.1 per cent on the same period last year.

Numbers have been declining since Christchurch’s February 22 earthquake.

Total visitor nights for August, one of Queenstown’s peak winter months, are 245,913. Domestic visitor nights are up 16.4 per cent to 80,223 but international guest visitor nights are down 9 per cent to 165,690 compared to the same month last year.

Destination Queenstown CEO Tony Everitt says the knock-on effect from the earthquake continues to affect international visitor numbers but he’s pleased to see domestic visitor numbers on the rise.

“August posted the smallest decline in Queenstown guest nights for any month since the February earthquake. Good snow and no other significant business disruptions enabled Destination Queenstown and member marketing efforts to gain traction.

“We need to be aware, however, that business conditions for the resort in September and October have been patchy. Indications are that November will start to see the return of the first significant number of coach tours to Queenstown since the February quake.”

Queenstown’s NZ Hotel Council Chairperson Penny Clark agrees, saying she expects figures to continue to be down until the coach tours start to return this summer.

“November is looking up for coach tour bookings so hopefully we’ll start to move forward again over the summer,” she says.

“ While the [Statistics NZ] commercial accommodation monitor occupancy rate shows a decline we need to balance that with the fact that our hotel capacity has increased 9.5 per cent since last year.”

Queenstown’s Motel Association representative Ann Cowan says it’s good to see growth in domestic travel.

“Kiwis have traditionally been a key market for motels so we’re keen for this trend to continue.”