Chinese New Year prompted a record number of guests to check into New Zealand accommodation in February.
New government tourism statistics show another boom month for the industry, supporting the idea that greater capacity is needed to cater for the country’s growth in visitor numbers.
Chinese New Year is always a peak travel period for Aotearoa, and this February saw double the number of visitors from China than the previous year when the festival fell in January – 68,900 visitors compared with 33,700 in 2017.
The accommodation survey by Statistics New Zealand collected data for guests staying in short-term commercial accommodation such as hotels, motels, backpacker hostels and holiday parks.
For the month of February, guest nights increased 2.1 percent to 4 million from the same month a year earlier.
International guest nights rose 6.6 percent to 2.1 million.
“International guest nights were up the most in the South Island, with large increases for nights spent in Christchurch, Queenstown-Lakes, Kaikōura, Southland, and Dunedin,” said accommodation statistics manager Melissa McKenzie.
“Kaikōura’s increase, and to a lesser extent Christchurch’s, reflects recovery from the lower volume of guest nights that followed the November 2016 Kaikōura earthquake.”
Kiwis with an eye on the weather were more circumspect about their February travel plans, though.
Domestic guest nights fell 2.4 percent to 1.9 million, marking the first time in eight years that international guest numbers have surpassed domestic numbers.
“New Zealanders spent fewer nights in holiday park and motel accommodation than last February, possibly reflecting Kiwis delaying their travel plans to wait out cyclones Gita and Fehi,” said Ms McKenzie.
“Locals are typically more likely to change their plans at short notice than international guests.”