Resort’s ‘booming’ start to summer

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Queenstown tourism operators are reporting a bright start to the summer tourist season.

Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd says the strong growth in visitor arrivals and guest nights throughout 2014 has continued. 

“We have experienced a very strong start to the summer season and, anecdotally, some operators are reporting between a 10 and 20 per cent growth over the prior year.”

Forecasts indicated the high level of activity will continue throughout the summer, he says. 

Tourism Industry Association hotel sector regional chairwoman Penny Clark says demand for accommodation during the holiday period is well up on the past few years. 

The sector is emerging from several years in the doldrums following the global financial crisis and strong activity will allow operators to catch up on overdue capital expenditure, she says.

The resort’s accommodation capacity has fallen in the past five years, particularly at the lower end of the market, which meant there is a “constriction” on supply. 

Real Journeys chief executive Richard Lauder says the company’s business in Queenstown during the holiday period was up about 10 per cent on the corresponding period last year. 

“It’s better than expected. We were certainly forecasting growth, but perhaps around 6-7%. 

“You would have to say it’s booming,” Mr Lauder says. 

Much of the growth could be attributed to the strength of the Asian economies, particularly China, but a significant portion was coming from the United States and Europe, as the effect of the global financial crisis is “wearing off”. 

Queenstown Airport chief executive Scott Paterson says the airport has been busy. 

The number of international flights had peaked at eight a day, more jets were flying in from Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland, and the airport’s retailers are reporting strong sales.