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Tourist numbers rise for the beginning of 2024

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Tourism businesses in New Zealand are experiencing a strong start to the summer season, with sunny forecasts and high customer demand.

This is the second summer since borders reopened, and many operators are witnessing increased activity.

State broadcaster RNZ reported Whale Watch Kaikōura has exceeded its visitor expectations, with sales and innovation manager Abba Kahu noting they were better prepared this year compared to the last. The town has enjoyed a vibrant atmosphere with a significant influx of tourists.

Hospitality New Zealand’s chief executive, Steve Armitage was also optimistic due to the settled weather attracting both domestic and international visitors.

The return of airline connectivity and regular cruise ship arrivals has also boosted visitor numbers.

While domestic spending in accommodation businesses has slightly dropped, it’s compensated by strong demand from overseas tourists, including last-minute and multi-night bookings.

Forward bookings for the next couple of months are said to be promising, with some providers reporting a 40% increase compared to last year.

Popular destinations like Queenstown, Rotorua, and Auckland are thriving, and regions previously affected by weather events, such as Coromandel, Northland, and Tai Rāwhiti, are also seeing increased visitor numbers and spending. However, Armitage acknowledged that while many businesses are doing well, others are struggling with high costs. He remains hopeful for a resurgence in the sector despite the possibility of more business closures.

Ahipara Horse Treks manager Selena Anderson reported a steady business before Christmas, with increased activity post-New Year’s. The weather plays a significant role in their business, as rainy days lead to quieter periods. They are hoping for continued good weather to boost business before the end of the school holidays.

Hospitality New Zealand is developing a 10-year industry strategy and plans to consult its members by the end of January.

Image credit: Ömer Faruk Bekdemir

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