It’s been an average sort of summer for holiday park operators. Spring wasn’t great, but business improved for most through summer, helped by lovely weather over the Christmas – New Year peak.
Park owners said people had left it later than usual to confirm their holiday plans – a trend that we’ve been noticing more and more over the past few years. But overall, bookings were the same, if not better, than last summer.
I believe this shows that New Zealanders are starting to feel more confident about the economy and are recognising that holiday parks are excellent value for money.
In recent years we’ve also seen a growing trend for international visitors to stay in holiday parks.
Travellers from Australia and Europe in particular are choosing this type of experience which combines great locations and facilities with the opportunity to rub shoulders with Kiwi holiday makers.
Current research suggests that international visitors staying in holiday parks spend over $160 a day each over an average length of stay of 35 nights. That is more than those staying in other forms of commercial accommodation, in part because they stay longer. It’s worth noting that their spending is also spread widely throughout the country, including places well off the beaten tourist track. Tourism industry leaders have been talking up the benefits of growing our share of the Chinese inbound market for some time now.
It seems unlikely that we’ll see New Zealand’s traditional markets like the US and UK back in significant growth mode any time soon. So China and other emerging Asian markets are being touted as our strongest hope for tourism growth.
New airline routes opening up from Southern China, Taiwan and Malaysia this year will definitely facilitate that growth, with the extra capacity out of Asian markets set to bring more than 300,000 extra passengers to our shores each year.
That’s great news for the tourism industry but the holiday park sector wants to be sure that New Zealand doesn’t drop the ball on our traditional European and North American markets. While growing visitors from new and emerging markets will undoubtedly benefit some sectors, these are not markets which visit holiday parks or travel by camper van. The number of FITs from these new markets will certainly grow as the markets mature but it will be some time before holiday parks see any significant numbers.
In the meantime, we are working closely with Rugby World Cup organisers and Tourism New Zealand to highlight the availability and range of holiday park accommodation to rugby fans arriving from offshore. We are also keeping a watching brief to ensure our international marketing efforts continue in self-drive markets like Australia, UK and Germany, which are also among New Zealand’s highest yielding visitors. Tourism New Zealand’s research on ‘Active Considerers’ shows those who are most interested in coming here want to have fun, and feel relaxed, safe and comfortable. Holiday parks can certainly deliver on those aims!