Guest nights fall in February
There were 3.2 million guest nights in short-term commercial accommodation in February 2012, down 2.0 percent from February 2011. International guest nights fell (down 11 percent), while domestic guest nights rose (up 7.0 percent).
South Island guest nights fell 8.3 percent in February 2012 compared with February 2011, while North Island guest nights rose 2.8 percent. The Canterbury region continued to show the largest fall, followed by Otago and Bay of Plenty. Auckland had the largest regional increase in guest nights.
Hotels, backpacker accommodation, and motels recorded falls in guest nights for February 2012, compared with February 2011. Guest nights in holiday parks rose.
The national trend for guest nights appears to be slowly falling, but several more months of data are needed before this can be confirmed.
International guest nights fall in most regions
International visitors spent 1.4 million guest nights in New Zealand in February 2012. This is down 11 percent from February 2011. The South Island (down 17 percent) accounted for four-fifths of the national decrease, while the North Island (down 5.0 percent) accounted for the other fifth.
Eleven of the country's 12 regions had falls in international guest nights in February 2012. The regions showing the largest decreases were:
- Canterbury, down 57,000 (24 percent)
- Otago, down 48,000 (15 percent)
- Southland, down 16,000 (23 percent)
- West Coast, down 14,000 (14 percent).
The only regional increase was relatively minor:
- Taranaki/Manawatu-Wanganui, up 1,000 (3.1 percent).
International visitors in February 2012 accounted for 45 percent of total guest nights, down from 49 percent in February 2011.
Fewer February visitor arrivals despite leap day
According to International Travel and Migration statistics, 259,100 short-term visitors arrived in New Zealand in February 2012, down 3 percent from February 2011 (268,300). The decrease was despite February 2012 having an extra day (29 February).
Fewer visitors arrived from Hong Kong and China because in 2012 the Chinese New Year holiday period was in January. In 2011, it was in February. There were also fewer visitors from the United Kingdom and Japan.
Domestic guest nights rise in both North and South islands
Domestic visitors accounted for 1.8 million guest nights in February 2012, up 7.0 percent from February 2011, and up 8.1 percent from February 2010. Domestic guest nights rose 8.5 percent in the North Island and 4.4 percent in the South Island.
The regions with the largest increases in domestic guest nights were:
- Auckland, up 31,000 (11 percent)
- Otago, up 19,000 (12 percent)
- Waikato, up 16,000 (10 percent).
Only two regions had decreases in domestic guest nights. Both of these decreases were small:
- Bay of Plenty, down 3,000 (1.7 percent)
- Canterbury, down 2,000 (0.7 percent).
South Island guest nights still down after Canterbury earthquakes
The South Island had 1.3 million guest nights in February 2012, down 8.3 percent from February 2011, and down 13 percent from February 2010.
Guest nights in the Canterbury region fell 13 percent (58,000) in February 2012, compared with February 2011, and accounted for half of the South Island fall. The most-damaging Canterbury earthquake struck in Christchurch on 22 February 2011, meaning that guest nights for only the last week of the February 2011 month were seriously affected by this earthquake.
Most of the fall in Canterbury guest nights was due to hotels, with many large hotels in Christchurch being damaged by earthquakes or being placed off-limits. Backpacker accommodation recorded a smaller fall than hotels, while holiday parks and motels recorded rises. Earthquake damage and street closures have reduced accommodation capacity in Canterbury, particularly for hotels and backpacker accommodation. International guest nights remain at reduced levels in Canterbury, while domestic guest nights, with many visitors there on earthquake-related business, dropped only marginally.
The other four South Island regions also recorded lower guest night numbers:
- Otago, down 29,000 (6.2 percent)
- West Coast, down 12,000 (7.9 percent)
- Southland, down 12,000 (11 percent)
- Nelson/Marlborough/Tasman, down 7,000 (3.0 percent).
International guest nights fell in every South Island region, while domestic guest nights (apart from a small fall in Canterbury) rose in every South Island region.
The trend for South Island guest nights has been falling for two years since the January 2010 series peak. There are signs that the trend is flattening this year, but more months of data are needed before this can be confirmed.
North Island guest nights up
The North Island had 1.9 million guest nights in February 2012, up 2.8 percent from February 2011, and up 3.8 percent from February 2010.
Guest nights increased in five of the seven North Island regions, compared with the previous February. The regions with the largest changes were:
- Auckland, up 26,000 (4.6 percent), mostly due to domestic guests in hotels
- Bay of Plenty, down 15,000 (5.0 percent)
- Waikato, up 14,000 (5.2 percent)
- Taranaki/Manawatu-Wanganui, up 14,000 (9.3 percent).
The trend for North Island guest nights shows a decline since the September 2011 series peak, but data from upcoming months is needed before this can be confirmed.
Hotel accommodation guest nights down
Hotels, backpacker accommodation, and motels had decreased guest nights in February 2012, compared with February 2011. Holiday parks were the only accommodation type with increased guest nights.
In February 2012, compared with February 2011:
- hotels were down 85,000 (7.9 percent)
- holiday parks were up 36,000 (5.3 percent)
- backpacker accommodation was down 17,000 (3.5 percent)
- motels were down 1,000 (0.1 percent).
Most of the decrease in hotel guest nights occurred in Canterbury. The increase for holiday parks and the decrease for backpacker accommodation were also heavily influenced by movements in Canterbury guest nights.
The trend for hotel guest nights has consistently fallen since the September 2010 series peak, down 10 percent since then.
Nationally, motels accounted for 32 percent of overall guest nights in February 2012, followed by hotels (31 percent), holiday parks (23 percent), and backpacker accommodation (14 percent).
Accommodation capacity reduced by Canterbury earthquakes
Total available capacity in short-term accommodation was 4.1 million stay unit nights in February 2012. This number is up 1.3 percent from February 2011 and up 0.6 percent from February 2010.
However, the number of stay unit nights is dependent on the number of days in the month. February 2012 had 29 days, while February 2011 had 28 days. If this extra day is taken out of the calculations, the change in available accommodation capacity for February 2012, compared with February 2011, would have been a decrease of 2.2 percent. This reflects damage caused by the Canterbury earthquakes.
If the extra day in February 2012 is adjusted for, three of the four accommodation types had less capacity in February 2012 than in February 2011:
- hotels were down 5.1 percent
- backpacker accommodation was down 3.4 percent
- motels were down 2.3 percent.
Holiday parks were the only accommodation type where capacity increased, up 0.3 percent.
Occupancy rate decreases
These figures exclude holiday parks unless otherwise mentioned.
The occupancy rate in February 2012 compared with February 2011 was 62 percent, down 1.5 percentage points.
The regions with the highest occupancy rate were:
- Wellington (71 percent)
- Auckland (71 percent)
- Otago (65 percent).
The largest changes in occupancy rate for February 2012, compared with February 2011, were in:
- Southland, down 7.9 percentage points
- Nelson/Marlborough/Tasman, down 6.3 percentage points
- West Coast, down 6.3 percentage points
- Bay of Plenty, down 5.4 percentage points.
Hotels had the highest occupancy rate (66 percent) in February 2012, followed by motels (64 percent), and backpacker accommodation (55 percent).
For more detailed data from the Accommodation Survey, see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.