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Budget tourists underpin gains in accommodation

Budget tourists underpin gains in September accommodation numbers

By Paul McBeth

Nov. 11 (BusinessWire) – Rising tourist numbers underpinned gains in New Zealand accommodation last month as the number of guest nights increased for all operators.

Total guest nights rose 1.2%, seasonally adjusted, to 2.7 million in September compared to a month earlier, and have climbed 3% from the same month in 2008, according to the Accommodation Survey released by Statistics New Zealand. This came amid a 7.6% gain to 826,000 in international accommodation numbers from August and a same-sized gain from September last year. Domestic travellers increased 0.5% to 1.4 million.

The biggest gains were in the cheaper end of the market, with guest nights at backpackers up 2.5% to 376,000 and holiday park stays up 2.3% to 533,000. The two types of budget accommodation make up some 34% of the market. Hotel visitors edged up 0.6% to 906,000 and motel guest nights increased 0.6% to 867,000.

Tourism has struggled this year as the global credit crunch and Swine flu pandemic discouraged people from travelling abroad. This was compounded by New Zealand’s strong currency, which has surged more than 45% from its sub-50 U.S. cents low in March.

Grant Webster, chief executive of the campervan rental company Tourism Holdings, told shareholders at their annual meeting yesterday that the coming year “will still be difficult for this business as we deal with lower demand.”

The sector was deposed as New Zealand’s biggest export earner for the first time in seven years after government figures showed international visitors spent $9.3 billion in the 12 months ended March 31, its first decline in a decade. Dairy exports topped the list with about $10 billion earned through the period.

(BusinessWire)

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